TEC Tips: Reading E-Books with Young Children

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TEC Tip: Reading E-Books with Young Children

written by Katie Paciga, PhD and Mary Quest

March 21, 2017

Fred Rogers Center and TEC Center Early Career Research Fellow, Katie Paciga and Mary Quest, a doctoral student and instructor at Erikson Institute, just published  a study on e-book reading with young children. The full research article is included below and is available for download here.

Support for Annie, 2 yrs 5 mos.

Support for Annie, 2 yrs 5 mos.

Katie and Mary offer these five research-based tips to consider as you plan for e-reading experiences with toddlers and preschoolers:

  1. Sit in close proximity to your child as you co-engage in e-reading experiences.
    • The close proximity, and your shared gaze and attention that come with proximity, work to build bonds between caregiver and child.
  2. Try placing the tablet on a stable surface when reading e-books with toddlers or preschoolers, rather than on the child’s lap.
    • When the device is on the child’s lap, the child may struggle to stabilize the device. This could impact the child’s overall experience with the text.
  3. Read e-books multiple times with your child.
    • This could allow the texts to become a “favorite book” of your child’s.
    • Utilize the menu features during the first e-reading experience to read the book yourself to your child, as opposed to letting the device narrate the text.
  4. Remind children that they sometimes need to wait (i.e., inhibit behavior) for the e-book, or application, in order to interact with the interactives/clickables. Young children may also require prompting to activate (i.e., activate behavior) the interactives/clickables.

    Support for Charlie, 4 years, 5 mos.

  5. For both selecting and sharing an e-book, consider the child’s developmental level and the child as an individual, including their particular interests.
    • Adjust the way you respond to better co-regulate the e-book experience. Two year olds may not read through an entire board book from cover to cover, so consider brief interactions with portions of e-books to be acceptable e-reading experiences for them.
    • Utilize affirmations, questions, and verbal and physical prompts (e.g., pointing) to build on the child’s developmental strengths and interests.

Research Citation

Paciga, K. A., & Quest, M. (2017). It’s Hard to Wait: Effortful control and story understanding in adult-supported e-book reading across the early years. Journal of Literacy and Technology, 18(1), 35-79.

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