March 28, 2019

Print books > digital when reading to your kid


A recent New York Times article by Perri Klass briefs readers on a recent study published by the Journal of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan that looked into the difference between reading a digital book versus a print book to a toddler. I expected the study to measure the success of one form over the other through reading comprehension and was surprised to learn that the focus was more on the toddler’s engagement with their parents.

Klass is the national medical director of Reach out and Read, which is a nonprofit organization that works to incorporate books into pediatric checkups and works to encourage families to read aloud together. The Reach out and Read website explains:

What happens during the first few years sets the stage for the rest of a child’s life. It is a time when a child’s experiences irreversibly affect how the brain develops – for better or worse.

Nurturing from a loving parent or caregiver in the early years supports healthy brain development that forms the foundation for success later at school and in life – and one of the best ways of engaging with young children is through looking at books together. Even the youngest baby loves to be held close and hear the voice of Mom or Dad as they read a book aloud.

The University of Michigan study found that while using the print form of a book (what Klass calls a “book book”), children were more likely to interact with their parent during and after the book than while reading the digital form of the book. 

Whether you’re sold or unsure about the results of this study, visit the Reach out and Read website to learn more. 



Christina Cerio is the Manager of Direct Sales & Special Projects at Melville House.