Most kids love playing on devices. As parents we often try to harness their obsession and use it for educational purposes through things like apps for spelling, writing and maths.
There are also a plethora of books and reading material available electronically and it makes sense that parents and educators steer children towards these to encourage reading. For example, Scholastic, leading distributor and publisher of children’s books, has an online Learning Zone. This is used by schools to promote reading and includes an extensive library of e-books.
Then of course, there are devices specifically designed for reading such as Kindles. A very tempting way to encourage kids to get into reading while satisfying their love of screens.
However, interesting Australian research shows that, regardless of how accessible screens make reading to kids, it doesn’t actually work!
Essentially, kids who loved reading were found to demonstrate a preference for traditional reading material over e-readers or devices. This is interesting as we assume kids, with all their tech-culture upbringing would prefer the look and feel of screens.
As a bookworm from an early age, I strongly believe nothing beats reading a paper book. It kind of makes me happy to know the younger generation appreciates this experience as well!!
Another interesting, but not surprising, finding from the study was that children with access to a wide range of devices had lower levels of reading frequency. Mobile phone use in particular was associated with reading infrequency.
The multifunctional nature of most devices means it is easy for children to become distracted and switch from reading easily. Anyone with notifications switched on or too many tabs open knows the lure of “all the things” that are accessible via a device.
So how do we help foster a love of reading in our kids?
To start with:
- Model reading behaviour, especially for pleasure
- Make paper books accessible
- Set aside dedicated reading time (screen-free!)
- Read together
This post has some more helpful tips from creating your own little bookworm.
Reading books is proven to improve literacy skills, imagination and attention.
Not to mention it is an easy, effective way to keep children entertained and engaged! So next time your child reaches for a device, hand them a book instead.