There has been a recent flurry of news about whether children learn as well from ereaders as they do from paper books. Many of the studies cited are comparing interactive books with paper books. Researchers have found that children have lower reading comprehension on some ereaders because they are getting too distracted by the interactive features. I feel this way with my kids on everything from TV character flashcards to the BOB Books ipad app.
But wait, hypocritical blogger, you may be saying, you recommend the LAZ Readers, which are on the ipad. Yes, I do. But if you look at one of the sample books, you will see how low-tech the readers are. There are no games, no animation, no background music. The only interactive features are the ability to turn pages with your finger (I’ve complained about how sensitive the app is) and the ability to look up a definition of a few words in each book. My kids liked them so much because it was a break from reading paper readers, and made them feel excited just to be doing anything with the ipad.
Long story short, the studies don’t surprise me. I’ve tried to take the simple approach to teaching my own children. I even find that I, a dedicated ereader, get troubled by the new format. It can be harder to go back to recheck something, because you can’t just flip back a few pages. There is a search feature, but the results tend to be overwhelming. Maybe I’m just not an expert at using the finer features of the machine, but I know I’m not alone. Ereaders are here to stay and are fabulous in many ways. But the interactive versions are not, it appears, a great way to get children to read.
All that said, it makes sense to me that if interactive books are what it takes to help increase your child’s interest in reading, go right ahead. Maybe it just means that you need to interact with your child more to ensure that they are really reading and understanding.
What has your experience been?