Bringing Up a Young Reader on E-Books

Xander Peeples, left, and Matthew Stokedale using iPads in their second-grade class.

From The New York Times:

Julianna Huth, a second grader at Green Primary School, in Green, Ohio, is a convert to the digital word.

The 8-year-old uses both an iPad and a Nook, and she enjoys e-books at home and at school.

“It’s just cool that you can read on your iPad,” said Julianna, who started using e-books when she was 6. “It’s more fun and you learn more from it.”

Children would say that. Books on iPads and some e-readers like the Nook Color or the Kindle Fire are fun. They include music, animation and other interactive elements that make reading a book feel like playing a video game.

In “Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes,” an e-book for children ages 3 to 7, they can change the color of Pete’s shoes by touching them, sing along to music with the lyrics that roll along the page, listen to a narrator or record their voices as they read aloud.

But is it better than a book? It may take a generation to ever know for sure, and even 10 or 20 years from now it will be debated as the effects of television or video games are still discussed today.

Julianna’s teacher, Kourtney Denning, sees e-books as essential. “Old books don’t really cut it anymore,” she said. “We have to transform our learning as we know it.”

Amid the excitement and enthusiasm, some people are suggesting a closer look, especially for younger children learning to read. “Right now, the state-of-the-art, in terms of research-based practice is: read traditional books with your child,” said Julia Parish-Morris, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied e-books and how children interact with them. “We don’t have any evidence that any kind of electronic device is better than a parent.”

In an attempt to figure out whether parents should embrace e-books with great enthusiasm or ration e-reader screen time as they do TV time, Julianna’s class is participating in a research project for the Center for Literacy at the University of Akron.

Continue reading the rest of the story on The New York Times