Settled into my bed, covers draped over me for warmth, night lights on to ward off the monsters under my bed, and my mom lying beside me reading a bedtime story. There was no electronic device such as a Kindle or iPad; just us and the book of my choice. Now, choosing e-book or print book is the topic of conversation. E-books have altered the way in which co-reading between a parent and child is conducted and ultimately what the child gets out of the experience. Technology is going to exist no matter what; it is irrational to believe otherwise. The issue at hand is not e-books as a whole, but that e-books hinder children and parents during co-reading. With a technology driven society it is still important to see the significance and benefits of co-reading with print books.
No matter what, e-books are staying around for the long haul. Forbes shows that e-books now make up “30% of books sales. There is no denying their place in an era centered on technology. The issue is how e-books are negatively effecting the interaction of parents and children while reading along together. In a study at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center conducted by Cynthia Chiong, it was found that “the enhanced e-book was less effective than print […] it prompted more non-content related interactions.” This shows that children do not focus as closely when reading e-books with parents as they do with print books.
A study by Zevenbergen and Whitehurst stated, “when adults prompt children with questions pertaining to the text, label objects, and encourage them to discuss the books contents in terms of their own experiences and curiosities, this elicits increased verbalization by the child and can lead to improved vocabulary and overall language development.” With the non-content discussion higher for e-books this relates now to the issue of children retaining less information from the story. Chiong’s study also stated, “children who read enhanced e-books recalled significantly fewer narrative details than children who read the print version of the same story.” However in the same study it expressed that “e-books were more advantageous for engaging children and prompting physical interaction.”This may be true, but does physical interaction compensate for lack of content conversation and comprehension? Children may be interacting with the text more using e-books, but that interaction is not leading to questions being asked about content. If children do not know what is going on in the story then the purpose of reading it has been tarnished.
In a second survey by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, it was found that the iPad owners who do not co-read with their children using e-books, “34.4% of these parents say that it’s just too difficult to read with a child on a digital device, and nearly as many are worried the child would start to want to use the iPad all the time.” This is in comparison with the “60% of parents who simply prefer print books to e-books." Further into the study it was shown that “In fact, 89.9% of these parents report that they read mostly print books and some e-books with children, compared to 7.5% who say they read print books and e-books equally with their children, and 2.7% who read mostly or exclusively e-books.”Clearly, print books are a preference and that may be due to a generational gap; but, it is also clear that print books are better for co-reading between a child and parent. With e-books posing too many distractions leading to lower comprehension, the child is losing significant developmental skills. This is something the parents must be noticing if they are continually choosing print books over e-books.
Technology is the center and driving force behind today’s society. It is to be said that there is also a time and place for the use of technology, in particular e-books. Trying to completely rid the world of e-books is an irrational concept. But, based on the provided information, it seems that co-reading should be done with print books and not e-books. Go back to story time with your child and you cozy in the bed; is there an e-book there distracting your child or an actual book engaging your child to interact with you?