In “Students Reading E-Books Are Losing Out, Study Suggests,”Annie Murphy Paul discusses the findings of recent studies that compare student’s reading comprehension with e-books and physical books. The studies Paul examines focus mostly on younger students from kindergarten to grade 6, and middle school. The article investigates the way young readers absorb information and read text from an e-book. Many of these studies concluded that at times e-books, and particularly those with extra features, interrupted the reading process for many young students. The articles address the appeal of e-books to young learners, the distraction of interactive features, and the necessity of adult intervention.
The article mentions a study done by Carol A. Smith published in The Reading Teacher, where children from kindergarten to grade six were given e-books. Teachers noteeds that children were attracted to the e-books, however, they questioned how much information students retained. The Students seemed more interested in interactive features than in reading the actual text. Teachers even commented that children seemed to be skimming over the text, thereby not achieving a thorough comprehension of what they read. These results beg the question, should a line be drawn between interactive e-books and games? Should e-books be regarded as a way to improve literacy, or simply as an interactive way to present information to young students? Teachers also mentioned that these interactive apps may be diffusing the attention of young readers. With so many areas to click on, interactive books apps can overwhelm readers with information, and diffuse their attention to the text. It’s possible that this information overload is disrupting the reading process of young students. While these results do highlight the disadvantages of interactive e-book features, it seems unfair to extrapolate these findings to e-books in general. It seems that it is not the format of the e-book, but the distracting features that have been limiting the reading process, and potentially what is needed is more careful selection of the types of e-books that students are reading.
Paul’s article goes on to suggest that what may be needed is more adult intervention in children’s e-book reading. If e-books are more carefully selected, and distracting contact was avoided, it is possible that students will be able to pay closer attention to the written text.
Parents and educators must also take an active role in the process of learning to read on the screen. Studies have suggested that young students may not be applying their reading skills to the e-book format, because the information is not being delivered to them through a physical book. Students may be having trouble comprehending text in e-book form because they are viewing the process of reading in a different way through this electronic medium. Potentially, if parents help instruct young readers on applying reading skills to tablets and e-readers, students will be able to comprehend e-book information and physical book text at the same capacity.
While e-books may hold some challenges for young readers, it seems unfair to assume that they do not hold the same potential to help young students learn. If given the proper text, and taught effective skills, young students may be able to see and use the e-book in the same way they view the physical book. E-books still have enormous potential to deliver information to young readers. With their undeniable electronic appeal, there is still the possibility that students can continue to learn through written text, only now in an electronic format, as well as a physical one.