Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Print Books Never Lose Battery Life at Bedtime

The  Joan Ganz Cooney Center has come out with some interesting studies about print books and e-books, and their peppy cousin the enhanced e-book. The results, which you can read at Digital Book World, are significant not only for the learning they show among young readers, but also for the perceptions parents have about the way young people read. Look for a complete report on the survey by the end of this summer.

There seems to be a bit of a disconnect.

One study showed that kids, ranging in age from 3 to 6 years, preferred reading an e-book to a paper book. And it looked at their comprehension rates, showing no difference between the paper format and the digital one. This study was small but is one of the first of its kind to attempt to determine if there is a preference or difference in how kids take in stories.

When you add the enhanced e-books like picture book apps into the mix, allowing for more finger swiping and tip tapping, comprehension rates drop, the study shows. Food for thought for teachers incorporating picture book apps into the classroom, but also great fodder for app producers trying to stay true to book apps as learning tools for young readers.

In another Cooney Center study, taking the pulse of 1,200 parents, it might come as no surprise to learn that parents prefer print books over digital when they read with their children. But the interesting tidbit here is that they believe their children do too. (Parents, see above study.)

I can't disagree with the Old Guard in this survey. And though I don't want to be lumped in with any of the hysteria around parents worrying that tablets are turning their readers into zombies, I'll be the first to admit that I still love snuggling up on a pillow with my kids and sharing a paper book. While I am fine with my kids reading a novel or picture book app on the iPad during the day, there is something intrusive about having a screen on at bedtime.

Many of us spend a big part of our day policing screen time and knocking our kids off the electronic toys and out onto the green stuff growing in the yard. So while it's good to see studies that show positives around children's engagement with digital books, it will likely take a while for parents to get behind the notion of a glowing screen on when the stars come out.

What about you? What do your kids prefer? And how do you read to them at bedtime?


  1. I read paper books to my grandchildren. Many books in our family collection span three generations. A jelly fingerprint or crayon doodle left on a page is a wonderful reminder of the time "Mommy" was a little girl, or grandma got this book for her 5th birthday. E-readers are wonderful but we prefer paper.

  2. I read to and with my children every night. We read traditional (maybe old fashioned) paper books. My 4yr old still likes to feel the pages and touch the illustrations as if they might jump out of the page. I love that she sees the magic of books - paper books. My son reads whatever I can get him to read - I haven't purchased any chapter books for his age on the ipad so he has only seen a few interactive picture books there.

  3. I still love paper books at bedtime, but the iPad's been a lifesaver when we do family "silent" reading time. I can put on a "read to me" ebook for my son, who is a pre-reader, with headphones while the rest of us read our own books.

    I think there's room for both, but I do worry about the loss of print. I wouldn't say my son prefers the screen, but he's certainly more enamored of it than my daughter, who is three years older than him. I guess we'll see once he gets to reading books on his own.