In today’s digital world, there are ever new and innovative ways to bring the joy of reading to children. Some ebooks on the market contain exciting features like puzzles, mazes and games. Others include audio narration or assistance to sound out syllables and words. Here is a breakdown of what to look for and what to avoid:
What to look for:
- Books that include features that highlight over text as it is being read (called “bi-modal text”) or sound out difficult words can increase the learning. These are called “scaffolding mechanisms.”
- Audio Narration can assist children who struggle in fluency skills as it allows them to focus on understanding the text. The narration also serves as a model for their fluency. The more they hear the model, the better they will become.
- Books that have embedded definitions for words that might be outside the child’s vocabulary have been showed in studies to stimulate higher-level conversation between adults and children, especially if they are reading together.
- The same study showed that reading together plus “scaffolding mechanisms” in an ebook are a winning combination.
What to avoid:
- Interactive elements such as puzzles, games, mazes, etc. that take the reader away from the plotline of the story are called “hot spots.” These disrupt the narrative of the story and your child’s ability to understand the text. These are usually added in, not by bookmakers knowledgeable in helping children meet literacy goals, but by an industry trying to keep kids coming back.
For more about children and ebooks visit http://www.naeyc.org/yc/ebooks-for-children.