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STUDY: Print Books Are BEST When Reading With Toddlers

Let's hear it for togetherness! New research says reading print books out loud with your young child is far more superior to using e-books.

Think twice before plunking your child down with his tablet for an e-book read. According to current research, good old-fashioned print books read outlous by Mom or Dad are more beneficial for toddlers and far more engaging than e-books. 
    While a tablet may have interactive features that entertain children, a study published recently in the journal Pediatrics says traditional print books foster more quality interaction between parents and kids. When reading a print book together, parents and toddlers talk and interact, read pages, flip back and forth, point and discuss images and ideas.
    "Shared reading promotes children's language development, literacy and bonding with parents," Tiffany Munzer, M.D., lead author of the study said in a press release from the University of Michigan.


The study was lead by University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and brought together 37 pairs of parents and toddler participants. Three different book formats were used: print books, basic e-books on a tablet and enhanced e-books with features like sound effects and animation. Researchers observed that parent/toddler couples interacted less with e-books and parents talked less about the story they were reading and more about the tech features like buttons and volume.
    "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," Munzer explains. Further, the research suggests that digital enhancements may actually distract parents and children away from having conversation.


• Let your child turn the pages: He will love holding the reins and setting the pace.
• Paraphrase: Breezily summarize what's happening on each page you read and take time to engage in any questions or thoughts your child has.
• Talk about pictures: Name animals, colors, objects. Talk about things you know and have seen together.
• Be animated: Express yourself when you read. Your acting will bring life to the story for your child.
• Don't rush or force it: Sometimes a child's can't sit still long enough for an entire story. That's OK. Keep trying every day and make reading together a part of your child's bedtime routine.
• Choose wisely: Let your child pick the books he wants you to read but also offer him new stories from time to time that you hand select for him. Children love short, funny books. 
• Some classic children's book authors include Mo Willems, Maurice Sendak, Kate DiCamilio, Eric Carle, Stan and Jan Berenstain, Robert Munsch, Margaret Wise Brown, Robert McCloskey, Jane Yolen, Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, A.A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, Virginia Lee Burton, Virginia Lee Burton, Richard Scarry and others. 

About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this award-winning publication and all-things Nashville Parent digital creative. She's also an Equity actress, screenwriter and a mom of four amazing kids.