The benefits of exposing children to books at a young age are clear. A 2018 study found that reading aloud to children improves their behavior, and according to another study published the same year, children in homes full of books grow up to have better reading comprehension skills. Now, new research suggests that not all types of books have the same impact. Reading physical printed books aloud, as opposed to reading words read on a screen, leads to richer interactions between parents and children, The New York Times reports.
For a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers at the University of Michigan observed 37 parents read aloud to their toddlers. As the subjects read the stories to their children in three different formats (print book, digital book, and interactive digital book with sounds and animations), the researchers recorded their interactions to see how they varied from book to book.
Books with digital enhancements didn’t necessarily improve the reading experience. According to the study, the interactive features distracted children and led to less real communication with their parents. But sophisticated add-ons weren’t the only reasons for declining quality reading time. Even when reading no-frills e-books, parents had a harder time connecting with their kids.
The physical books produced by far the most positive interactions. The researchers observed that parents and children commented more on the story and engaged in more dialogue. Picture books are designed to be read aloud and shared by multiple readers. Tablets, on the other hand, are personal devices. Parents and children may be used to using electronic devices on their own, so when it comes time to read together, they may be less likely to share and collaborate.
Reading from a physical page isn’t just good for kids and parents. Printed books can help older readers absorb more information, stay focused, and derive more enjoyment from the reading experience. Here are some other science-based benefits of old-fashioned reading.
[h/t The New York Times]