E-books vs printed books: Which is better for children?

PHOTO: The Straits Times

With the rise of smartphones and tablets, most parents share a common dilemma regarding reading tools for their children: e-books or printed books?

68 per cent of parents prefer that their six- to eight-year-old kids read print books rather than ebooks, according to Scholastic.

While traditional books are great reading tools for children, ebooks also have their perks in helping your little first-time reader.

Benefits of reading from print

  • Hands-on experience

Without reading actual books, kids may lose the tactile experience of turning the page on traditional books and sharing this activity with their friends. Your child may be at risk of being detached to the real world if they’ve got their noses constantly stuck to a tablet.

  • Storytelling
PHOTO: Pexels

When reading to your child, experts agree it is best to read actual books for storytime. The intimate experience of storytelling with your child can lead them to fall further in love with reading.

Traditional reading raises the value of books for kids and can turn storytelling a bonding activity for parents and their children.

  • Improve concentration and focus

With so many apps and games in devices, children may tend to get distracted from what they’re reading. Kids might find the other functions and buttons in an e-book more interesting than the content itself, losing their focus in getting any reading done.

Print books may help younger kids to concentrate more on the pages filled with words and pictures.

Benefits of reading e-books

  • More interactive
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Touchscreens and add-ons of an e-book can help a child in comprehensive reading, according to Scholastic’s study.

With tablets or other devices, they can zoom in on unfamiliar or complicated words and click on links to find other reading sources. The animations and audio available in some e-books also help kids understand words more.

  • More rewarding

Children can highlight and identify the meaning of words faster with e-book devices. Through the high-tech functions of e-books, kids can define unfamiliar words with just a press on the screen.  As their vocabulary improves, it encourages them to learn and read more materials.

  • Cater more to your child’s unique learning styles

Reading e-books in high-tech devices enable children to read what they like and what fits their reading skills without letting their peers know. This helps them feel less embarrassed if they find a particular material difficult to read.

This way, they can find their own pace in improving their comprehensive skills. Eventually, this will also help your child to read independently.

Both can benefit your child, but start with print

The truth is that both e-books and print can be beneficial for your child. While these two reading tools help improve your child’s reading comprehension, experts say it is always best to start with print before moving on to e-reading.

But whether e-book or print, it is still essential that you start your child’s love for books by reading together.

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The interaction while storytelling is still important whether it’s e-reading or print. Parents and teachers alike should continue asking their children questions about the story they’re reading and what they see on the pictures.

No matter how good their reading tools are, kids still need human interaction to improve their reading skills further.

This article was first published in theAsianparent.