Why Encouraging Young Kids to Read Non-Digital Books is Still Important

Nowadays, we’re seeing more and more parts of our lives pivoting towards digital. We see it almost everywhere we look — from brick and mortar stores turning to eCommerce sites, to real experiences being adapted into Virtual Reality. Books, however, were one of the first to make the shift. And as a result, we’re seeing screen-based reading becoming more and more popular, especially for the new generation of kids who have never known a world before digital technology.

It can be argued that ebooks are the more convenient choice, particularly for students who no longer have to carry heavy textbooks. Moreover, reading development author and psychologist Dr. Jamie Zibulsky explains that technology creates room for innovation in storybooks with added features like animation, music, and interactivity. These are things that paper simply cannot do. Because of this, many parents might have started asking themselves: what’s the point of encouraging our kids to put up with physical books, then? Well, it turns out, there are a lot of reasons still:

It’s great bonding time.

Parents, can you imagine bedtime reading with your little one off of a tablet? It just doesn’t evoke the same warmth. A study conducted by researchers in the UK backs this up, showing how reading physical books with kids makes parents more affectionate. It all comes down to body language since children who read from screens tend to have their heads down, making it harder for parents to get closer. On the other hand, parents who read to their children using a real book often get to tuck their children under their arms while holding the book. It sounds like a small thing, but makes a world of difference in bringing you and your child together.

Ebooks can be distracting

There’s a certain discipline in being able to keep your eyes glued to page after page of a book. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for technology, which is pretty much always a test on how long you can hold your concentration without giving in to the urge to check social media. This holds true for kids, too. Previously here on Prime Time Schools, we discussed how screens have been shown to greatly reduce attention spans. Tablets can get distracting very quickly, with young children ending up spending half their time playing instead of doing actual reading or understanding the story.

Books provide a sensory experience

The feeling of paper between your fingers and the flipping sound each page makes as you get deeper into a story is simply irreplaceable. If kids are only exposed to screens, they miss out on the wonderful, tactile experience of reading a real book and being able to share these with their friends.

Ebooks hinder comprehension

Swedish researchers found that screen-based reading is more physically and mentally taxing than reading on paper, thus making comprehension harder. Glare, pixelation, and flickering from monitors can make the eyes tire much more easily. For people who often read on screens, this results in eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision. Though it’s uncommon that young children will experience the same effects straight away, it’s best to ensure they don’t grow up dependent on screens alone.

Reading books have positive long-term effects.

Ideapod notes that children as young as six months who start reading or being read to by their parents several times a week tend to exhibit stronger literacy skills and higher intelligence test scores. This can be credited to the constant brain simulation, which also promotes better mental health and improves people skills. Because books provide readers with a wealth of conversational topics, it helps equip them with the confidence to start a dialogue, too. On their communications page, Maryville University highlights the importance of communication as a skill, which entails being able to strategize and pay attention to people. And if kids are able to sharpen their minds through books, then it should give them an advantage when trying to read a person or a specific situation as they go through life. Books, therefore, are a small price to pay for the invaluable benefits they can provide.

This article was exclusively written for primetimeschools.com

Sophia Michelle


This article is part of a young child health and wellness series posted for the benefit of parents by Prime Time Early Learning Centers.  Prime Time is a family owned child care company that provides Infant Care, After Care, PreK, Prekindergarten, and Summer Camp programs for children from six weeks to 10 years of age in Paramus, Edgewater, Hoboken and East Rutherford New Jersey, and in Middletown (Wallkill) and Farmingdale (Babylon) New York.  See what parents have to say about their experience with Prime Time Early Learning Centers on Google and Yelp!

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