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Connecticut Families Extra: Are old school print books better than e-books?

Connecticut Families

(WTNH) — Do you share stories with your toddlers and preschoolers using print books or e-books? According to new research, one might be better than the other.

About 25 percent of all American families own e-readers, and 75 percent have electronic tablets that can download books and magazines, but are e-books the best way for young children to learn to read? When it’s time to read to your child, do you go old school?

Or do you and your child prefer high-tech? Doctor Tiffany Munzer and her colleagues studied a group of 2-year-olds and their parents to learn more about their interactions during print and e-book reading.

“We think that toddlers are a really important age group to consider just because of their burgeoning executive functioning skills or burgeoning attentional capacity, which might make them more susceptible to some of the distracting enhancements that are found in electronic books,” Tiffany Munzer, MD Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

The researchers found with e-books, families conversed less and focused more on the technology.

“We heard words like swipe that page, or tap that button, or don’t touch that page, or don’t exit the program.”

The researchers said with print books, parents made more connections between the book and real life. Doctor Munzer says if parents use e-books with young children, treat the tablet like a print book. Ask kids questions about the story and have a back and forth conversation; strategies that help build early literacy skills.

Doctor Munzer says previous research involved preschool-aged children suggested that print books provided more of what’s called dialogic reading than e-books. The new research indicates the effect is the same with even younger children.


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