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Can eBooks for Children Really Help them Learn to Read

Can eBooks for Children Really Help them Learn to Read?

The Children’s Book Review | August 6, 2009
By Jeanette McLeod | www.wizz-e.com

The Children’s Book Review presents a guest post by Jeanette McLeod, Founder of http://www.wizz-e.com – bringing the magic of books to life.

Every parent wants the best start in life for their child and there is no better gift to give a child than teaching them to learn to read. Numerous studies have shown that reading more to our children and having them read more increases literacy rates and improves vocabulary. However, in today’s busy lives we as parents cannot always spend as much time as we would like sharing books with our children. Statistics show that to be on grade level, a 5 year old should have had 1000 hours of reading exposure before they reach school – that is half an hour every day each year for every year they have been alive!

What else can you do to increase children’s exposure to books?

  • Now there is another exciting medium to get kids reading more – digital books. These are not meant as a replacement to paper books but another way to expose children to reading. There have been some huge leaps forward in the development of digital books for children, especially those that have been designed around how kids learn to read. Now there are eBooks that read the child the story whilst highlighting the words to teach children about fluency, left-right reading, and improve sound/word recognition.
  • eBooks can also be used later as the child becomes an independent reader. Children can try and sound out a word whilst they are reading, without having to wait for adult intervention. If they get stuck they can hear it spoken by clicking on the word.
  • Children learn by repetition and we all know how kids can want the same story over and over again! With eBooks they can listen to the story a number of times and learn the associations between the sounds and the words.
  • Rather than being an entertainment medium, eBooks also include a comprehension/memory quiz to ensure the child has listened and understood the story. No special or expensive reading device is needed, they can be downloaded straight to your PC.

As a parent myself, I know how much my kids love to spend time on the computer. Now they can use screen time in an enjoyable and educational way. Having picture books that really come to life with animated illustrations is just magical. Even reluctant readers are engaged. However, eBooks should be seen as complimentary and not a replacement to paper books — nothing can replace the bond that is created between a parent/carer and child when cuddled up with a book. But increasing your child’s exposure to reading will enhance their literacy skills. Now screen time can be educational as well as fun. But don’t tell the children!

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The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids, is a resource devoted to children’s literacy. We publish reviews and book lists of the best books for kids of all ages. We also produce author and illustrator interviews and share literacy based articles that help parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians to grow readers. This article was written and provided by one of TCBR's regular contributors.

  • ebook readers are just too expensive. I heard that a lot of ebook consumers are older than 50 years. Of course, they buy an ebook reader just for fun.
    A computer on the other hand is something even parents would buy for their children. It’s an investment. Just imagine all the things you can do with a computer. What can you do with an ebook reader? Well, just read…

    I think “Can eBooks for Children Really Help them Learn to Read?” is not a relevant question. “How can parents help children learn to read” is what we have to think about.

    When your child was/will be 5 years old, had it/will it have 1000 hours of reading exposure before it reaches school?

    Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hours rule in his book Ouliers.
    So how will you manage to add another 9,000 hours?

    August 17, 2009
    • I agree with Calutateo that the most successful and happiest young readers are those whose parents read LOTS with them, and there is no replacing the bonding over reading together…but I love e-books! I think that they just expand the possibilities for reading together. Remember: you don’t need an e-reader to read an e-book…you can read an e-book on your phone! I think it’s pretty neat that you can buy a good book for less than $4 in the Kindle store and download it onto your cell phone. Next time you’re stuck in a long line at the supermarket, whip out the phone and read some poems to your child! (Full disclosure: I’m a children’s poet and I’m happy that I’ve been able to bring some of my out-of-print books back to life this way!)

      September 7, 2011
  • I have had some success with a different form of digital book – downloadable books from the website ReadingA-Z.com. This site offers a wide range of decodables, sight word books and leveled readers that I found helpful in improving my kids’ reading skills. Subscribers pay an annual fee and then can download (and print) as many books as they want.

    I have found the leveled readers to be particularly helpful. Each reading level (from A to Z) offers about 15-20 books. The books are short (6-20 pages each, depending on the level) so your child can read one or two each night and make good, steady progress. The leveled readers also have a printable quiz that helps build reading comprehension skills.

    Each of my kids progressed to about Level L, then switched to reading chapter books.

    Janet Mulroy (@KidCrunchMom)

    August 18, 2009
  • I believe both questions are relevant:”Can eBooks for Children Really Help them Learn to Read?” and “How can parents help children learn to read?”

    Let me address both:

    “Can eBooks for Children Really Help them Learn to Read?”

    As additional reading tools (as well as regular books) e-books certainly have their place in teaching, encouraging, and enhancing the reading experience. Most experts will say that all children learn differently, and offering a multi-sensory experience is beneficial when learning anything new.

    “How can parents help children learn to read?”

    Well, that is a whole other blog post in itself. But how about the most basic, start by having books in your house, read with your children everyday, and let you child see you read.

    September 3, 2009
  • Thanks for sharing your suggestion.

    September 3, 2009

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