Experts Say Parents Should Stick to Print Books During Storytime

Parents interact less with their children during storytime when they read books from tablets.
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profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
March 26, 2019
dad and toddler reading together from book
Image: Getty Images

Print isn’t dead, especially when it comes to children’s books.

Print books promote better quality time between parents and kids during storytime compared to electronic books, according to a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics and published in the journal Pediatrics. The research analyzed 37 parent-toddler pairs and found parents and children verbalized and interacted less with e-books than with print books.

For the study, the parents and toddlers used three book formats: print books, basic electronic books on a tablet and enhanced e-books featuring sound effects and animation. They noticed the pairs not only interacted less when reading stories from tablets, but also talked less about the storyline and more about the technology being used. For example, many parents discussed how to use the device or reprimanded kids for playing with the buttons and volume.

While interactions during storytime may seem insignificant, researchers say they actually play a crucial part in promoting healthy child development. The parent-guided conversations about the stories and characters encourage kids to practice expressive language, engagement and literacy.

If you swear by reading from a tablet, you can still stick to your daily routine. But try to engage the same way you would if you were holding a print book. Steer the conversation away from the device and its capabilities, and focus more on the story, setting, plot and other details to explore with your curious kiddo.

Need some storytime inspiration? Check out The Bump’s comprehensive list of the 80 best children’s books of all time.

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