Paper Books vs. eReaders – Is there a Difference?

These days I read most books on my iPhone, either with an eBook app or with Audible. It’s a convenient way to have unlimited reading material available whenever I have a spare moment. 

We’ve all heard about the benefits of reading to children, and children’s books are increasingly available in eReader format. Who wouldn’t want a full children’s library in their pocket?

Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward. Researchers studying toddler-parent interactions while reading found less interaction when reading electronic books as opposed to print books. This was true with both enhanced (meaning extra interactive features) eBooks and basic eBooks that simply copied the print page image on the screen. Parents also had more power struggles with children over who got to use the eReader and how. You can check out the full study here.

So I Can’t Read My Child eBooks?

I didn’t say that. Like other forms of screen time, I’m a fan of eBooks in limited amounts or when used due to circumstantial convenience. I keep a few kids eBooks on my iPhone for emergency entertainment (this came in handy when I got a flat tire and we had to wait for an hour in the car).  When we fly somewhere, we load up our Kindle with kids’ books so we don’t have to haul print copies on the plane. 

Additionally, early elementary students may reap some educational benefit from enhanced ebooks. A study out of the University of Akron’s Center for Literacy indicated that animation in eBooks helped kids learn sight words and and boosted engagement with the book.

The Bottom Line

I like eBooks for their easy availability for travel, waiting rooms, and emergencies. Other than that, my kids are welcome to read eBooks, but it counts towards their screen time (which is limited). However they have access to print books whenever they like. 

If you’re looking for some great print books, our favorites come from Usborne Books & More. (In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a consultant, but only to get the discount since we buy so many!)

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