#005 eBooks for Children: Motivate resistant readers with eBooks

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#005 eBooks for Children: Motivate resistant readers with eBooks

This week we look at the advantages and disadvantages of using ebooks for children and developing readers. Parents and teachers can be resistant to what is considered “screen time” which can be a significant factor inhibiting experiences with eBooks for children. And yet the evidence indicates significant benefits to offering eBook reading opportunities to children. This week, Nanci and Rebecca look at studies in the UK, US, and Australia that indicate measurable advantages of eBooks for children both in the classroom and for recreational reading.

National Literacy Trust: 468 pupils at 40 schools across the UK introduced to electronic books:

  • Reading levels increase by average of eight months (boys 8.4 months; girls 7.2 months)
  • Perception of reading being “cool” doubled
  • Perception of reading being “difficult” almost halved
  • 11% increase in boys “enjoyment”
  • 25% increase in daily reading
  • 22% increase in reading for an hour or more
  • 11.6% increase in ability to find something interesting to read

Irene Picton, the research manager at the National Literacy Trust said, “It is important to recognise the increased reading opportunities that technology offers pupils and how it can help children who struggle to read, for example by giving them the option of increasing the font size of the text.”

Even children who prefer reading on paper found they came to love reading even more and actively sought out more books both digitally and in print.

Other research indicates that more than half of children (52%) prefer reading from a device

  • Just 32% of children prefer print
  • Only one-third of children in Australia have ever read an eBook
  • Seven in ten (72%) parents prefer that their kids read in print
  • One-quarter of children who have read an ebook (26%) say they are reading more books since starting to read digitally.
  • Gender division: girls tend to prefer print while boys tend to prefer ebooks;
  • Motivation: about half of children found the opportunity to read on a device motivated them;
  • Reading Speed & Comprehension: A 2013 study of 103 US high school students with dyslexia found texts on an iPod touch significantly improved reading speed and comprehension.
  • Fiction vs Non-Fiction & Memory/Retention/Recall:
    • Electronic vs print for memory and retention of detail and later recall. There is some research to suggest that it can be more difficult to “recall assimilated information” and some speculation that spatial perceptions of printed text in relation to their position on the page can help with storing to long term memory and active recall.
    • Significantly more fiction to non-fiction is read on eReaders vs the balance of fiction and non-fiction in print and from computer screens.


P.S. In this episode we refer to a conversation we had with Donna and a discussion we had about video games. These are upcoming episodes of The Literate Child so stay tuned and once those episodes go live I’ll update these show notes with links to those episodes.

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