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  • Experts Say Reading With Toddlers Is Best Done With Printed Books Instead of E-Books

    Make the most of storytelling time by grabbing a personal favorite from your shelf
    by Rachel Perez .
Experts Say Reading With Toddlers Is Best Done With Printed Books Instead of E-Books
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  • It's not surprising why digital reading materials are becoming popular these days. After all, it's more convenient to have an electronic copy of a book downloaded on your phone compared to carrying a thick, hardbound copy all the time. An additional factor would be the price, as many books come with a hefty price tag — with some references priced at around Php1, 000 or higher. 

    Why are printed books better than e-books?

    While technology grants kids convenience and easy access to reference materials, its benefits fall short when compared to a traditional medium. Printed books and reading materials are still far more superior in shaping your child's overall development, according to a new study included in Pediatrics, the journal published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

    Researchers from the University of Michigan set up a little experiment, asking 37 parents to read to their two- to three-year-olds similar stories in three different formats: a book, an electronic book or e-book, and an interactive e-book which produces animation and sound effects when tapped or swiped. The parents read the stories via the the different media in no particular order.

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    The results prove yet again that it's still best to read printed books in order to help improve the literacy, language development, and social skills of toddlers.

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    Reading print storybooks generated interactions

    Aside from generating interactions, printed books also resulted in "dialogic" collaboration about the story between the parents and their toddlers. Hard copy books allowed the parents not just to deviate from reading the text, it also gave them time to ask questions and in turn, encourage their children to ask questions that relate the story to their personal lives as well. This exercise gives the children an opportunity to understand and learn better.

    "Shared reading promotes children’s language development, literacy, and bonding with parents," Dr. Tiffany Munzer, a fellow in developmental-behavioral pediatrics at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and study lead author, said in a press release. "Parents strengthen their children’s ability to acquire knowledge by relating new content to their children’s lived experiences," she added.

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    Munzer added, "Research tells us that parent-led conversations are especially important for toddlers because they learn and retain new information better from in-person interactions than from digital media.” While audiobooks with pictures fared better as shown in a 2018 study, these don't match the benefits gained from reading printed storybooks with the children.

    Meanwhile, the tablet, as the researchers suggested, is more of a personal device. The enhanced e-books are more of a distraction and they offer limited interaction between the parents and their children. Reading on smartphones, tablets, and e-readers also mean more screen time for your little one. When left unchecked, too much screen time may lead to learning disadvantages as they grow.

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    Reading offers learning opportunities

    Reading with your children offers opportunities to learn aside from teaching kids how to put the sounds of letters together to form a word. Reading books with your kids also hones their fine motor skills as they discover how to turn a page. It also encourages taking turns in discussing the story in detail, which in turn promotes reading comprehension, language development, communication skills, and bonding.

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    When you read to your kids, they get to exercise and develop the connections in the brain. Senior author Jenny Radesky, M.D., also a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Mott, said that reading may not be a popular family bonding time activity or tradition today. "But [it's] one of the most important developmental activities parents can engage in with their children," she stressed.

    Reading is reading anyway — whether it's an actual book or an e-book. Your child may want to read picture books, chapter books, or  even graphic novels. Remember, you don't have to choose one format over another. However, if you have toddlers, it's still best to stick to published books for story time so you can lay the foundation of their literacy skills during their formative years. 

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