Reading to children has long been known to have rich benefits for them. (iStock)

Print books better for reading to toddlers, study finds

Electronic books are becoming more popular, but a new study suggests reading to toddlers from print books is more beneficial for them. Researchers at the University of Michigan found parents and two-to-three year-olds interacted more when reading print books together.

“It is very important,” says Patricia Ganea, director of the Language and Learning Lab at the University of Toronto. “We know from decades of research that certain types of interactions are better for promoting children’s later development.”

Richer interaction noted

When reading from print books parents were more likely to ask open-ended questions and to ask the toddler’s opinion about the story. They were also more likely to put the stories into context and to relate the story to the child’s own life.

Researchers found that when using e-books the talk was more about the device itself. (iStock)

Interactions found to be different

When reading from electronic books, they were more likely to spend time talking about the device itself. The dialogue was more likely to focus on tapping, turning the pages or who was in control of the device.

The authors concluded that pediatricians should recommend families read print books to children, particularly the very young,  and that when they do choose e-books, they try to interact in the same way as they would with the print versions.

Ganea added that e-books with simpler enhancements were less likely to overwhelm or distract very young children.

Prof. Patricia Ganea explains the difference in reading to toddlers from print books to reading from e-books.

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