Research done at Temple University showed that paper books provide a more positive parent-child interaction for young children–and that electronic books dampen it. (In other words, a picture book helps a child most when it’s paper–not really any surprise to anyone who loves picture books. You know this but you love to hear it from officialdom.)
Children sitting with a parent reading a digital rather than a physical book aren’t getting as much interaction. “This research does suggest that parents should be aware of some of the limitations of e-book reading. We shouldn’t use e-books to replace traditional books and we shouldn’t expect them that they don’t. They’re not substitutes for a human being.” (More here.)
It seems it comes down to how you interact with a book and how you interact with a device… the difference between, “Careful! Push here! Hold it this way!” and, “I wonder… what do you think will happen next?”
Are we focused on the device or the story?
I’m all for digital books–and the amazing things they can do. But they can’t do everything. They can’t replace a traditional book–or a human being.
It’s not a question solely for children and their books, is it? It sounds like something we need to be asking ourselves every day of our lives. Particularly at the start of a new year.
Are the tools we use enlarging or dampening our own lives, our own stories? What’s our focus–on the new or the essential?