Last week, we looked at some ideas about how children learn to read and some common problems they might experience. If you’ll remember, there were two basic levels of comprehension: the sentence level and the narrative level.
Children have trouble defining the letters and words, particularly order of the characters, are struggling with reading at the sentence level and should be tested for dyslexia. Children who can easily decipher all of the letters and tell you the words but can’t seem to understand the meaning of the text are struggling with reading at a narrative level.
One of the benefits of reading on a digital device is the ability to use programs such as the site we found last week that provide children struggling with reading skills with games and activities that help them develop these skills to a greater degree.
There are some other obvious benefits to digital books, such as the ability to take an entire library with you on long trips without breaking your back in the transit and the ability to acquire new titles immediately.
Before you vow to never step foot inside a bookstore again, there are some important advantages to remember about having a print book in hand.
To begin with, studies have shown people retain more information when reading from a print book. There is no real understanding as to why this might be true, but there are theories. The idea of flipping through the pages provides a metaphor to your mind to process through the information you’ve been presented, an experience that doesn’t seem to be repeated in the same way when people are reading the same material on a digital device.
There is also the ability to easily flip back and forth between physical pages in multiple books at one time. Whether you’re holding a finger on one page while reading ahead to the next page and trying to connect the meaning between the words (as you might do when working on narrative level comprehension) or comparing information in more than one book, physical books lend themselves to this method of learning much more than digital editions.
Finally, the tactile balance of books in the hand provide a highly satisfying perception of completion for the reader that simply cannot be duplicated by the digital product. Whereas the closing of the covers gives the reader a clear feeling of finishing the book and encouragement to reflect on the information just read, the final page of a digital product tends to sneak up on you, leaving you feeling somehow dissatisfied and cheated of a fundamental part of the experience.
This is not to say reading physical books is hands down better than reading digital books. Just an observation that there are distinct advantages to both approaches – each offering their own set of unique benefits. Bottom line, the more you expose your children to reading – whether physical or digital products – the more encouraged they will be to see it as an important part of their future lives.