Can e-Books Be Bad for Reading Comprehension?

Young Girl Reading a BookThey could be. A few recent studies indicate that e-books may negatively affect reading comprehension due to the very things that attract kids, including audio and animation. All of this interaction, The New York Times reports, can disrupt reading fluidity and interfere with reading comprehension.

What’s a parent to do?

It’s important to remember that research into reading comprehension and e-books is still in its infancy. Until we know more about how e-books affect reading comprehension, one study recommends that parents help their children to transfer the same practices used for print-based reading to digital content. ReadWriteThink identifies these practices as reading aloud to children, and focusing on the meaning “within the text,” “about the text” and “beyond the text.”

This means that parents should take an active role by reading with their children even – and especially – when the books are interactive.

For example, you might ask your child leading questions, such as:

“What does that mean?”
“What do you think will happen next?”
“Do you think that could happen in real life?”

Another approach is to focus on high-quality e-books instead of readily available apps that are often churned out quickly, and without going through a rigorous editorial process. For beginning readers, The New York Times recommends “Blue Hat, Green Hat” by Sandra Boynton and “Nickelby Swift, Kitten Catastrophe” by Ben Hecht, among others. For more advanced readers, The Times recommends “Wild About Books” by Judy Sierra and “The Artifacts” by Lynley Stace and Dan Hare.

By focusing on the quality of the reading experience beneath the bells and whistles of interactivity, parents can help their children to build reading comprehension skills that will be necessary in school, and that will encourage their children to think beyond the screen.

Sources:

1) http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/students-reading-e-books-are-losing-out-study-suggests/
2) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/trtr.1168/abstract
3) http://www.readwritethink.org/professional-development/strategy-guides/teacher-read-aloud-that-30799.html

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