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There’s an interesting article in The New York Times today about e-readers and children. As you may have heard, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently advised doctors to remind parents at every visit  that they should read to their children from birth. Additionally, they recommend limited screen time for children; no screen time for children under two and less than two hours a day for older children. That’s pretty powerful stuff.ereading

So the question unfolds: is using an e-reader as powerful as the printed page, and unfortunately, the study results are inconclusive. The studies suggest that the interaction between parent and child, the discussion about what is being read, is quite important for the development of language and researchers further suggest that using e-readers that read to the child (in lieu of a parent) do not generate that discussion and, thus, slow the development of language.

The article points to a 2013 study of children ages 3 to 5 which indicates that children whose parents read to them from a traditional book had better reading comprehension than those whose parents read from an e-book. The reason being that more time was spent focusing on the e-reading device than on the story. This result was borne out by two other studies.

Another factor is that e-books contain more than books. There are links to games. There are other sound effects. These diversions limit the conversation and dialogue between parent and child, which is a main, but not the sole, point of reading.

My unscientific opinion? I’m not an e-reading fan. I love the tactile nature of books and especially some children’s book. Pat the Bunny on an e-reader is missing something. Children’s books come in all sizes and shapes which don’t fit into the e-reader format. And imagine trying to turn the e-reader upside down to read the upside down writing on the page. Imagine reading Peter Sis’ Madelenka on an e-reader where the Herbwriting is in circles.

Lastly, there’s the thrill of going to the bookstore and perusing the collection for just the right book, sitting on the bookstore floor reading it and then going home and reading it some more. That’s how Lisa and I found Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon by Jules Bass and Debbie Harter. It gave us hours of reading pleasure.

However, any reading is better than no reading, in my book (pun intended). Of foremost importance is reading. However, whenever possible, open a real book. The size, smell, shape, writing style and feel make it a much more rewarding experience for parent and child.

End of sermon!!!

 

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