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New findings suggest it might be better to read toddlers an e-book than a print book

15 June 2017

Reading with a young child is important for their language development and early literacy skills. But does it matter if you read from an electronic book (e-book) or traditional print?

As any parent knows, toddlers are generally keen on screens. So the finding, from a new study in Frontiers in Psychology, that very young children enjoy e-books more than print picture books, may not come as a huge surprise – but these additional findings might: both parents and toddlers behaved differently when reading electronic vs. print picture books. And the toddlers who read the e-books learned more.

Studies of children aged three and up have suggested that e-books – with their extra features, such as built-in dictionaries and animations of story events – may have advantages over print. A recent meta-analysis found that e-books support story comprehension and vocabulary gains beyond that provided by print books, for example.

But there’s also work suggesting that children sometimes invest less mental effort in learning from iPads than print, and that parents talk less about content when sharing an e-book – and there’s been very little research at all in this area on children under two.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

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