Could e-books actually get in the way of reading?

That was the question explored in research presented at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association in Philadelphia. In a study conducted by researchers, middle school students were asked to read either traditional printed books or e-books on iPads. The students’ reading comprehension was higher when they read conventional books.

In a second study looking at students’ use of e-books created with Apple’s reading Author software, researchers discovered young readers often skipped over the text altogether, engaging instead with the books’ interactive visual features.

While their findings are preliminary and based on small samples of students, it seems the “richness” of e-books multimedia environment may overwhelm children’s limited working memory, leading them to lose the thread of the narrative or to process the meaning of the story less deeply.

Research shows kids often read e-books with minimal adult involvement. While one may assume interactive e-books can entertain and educate children by themselves, adult involvement is crucial to the learning process.


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