Children are growing up in a world that offers a more immersive digital experience than could have been imagined by past generations. It’s natural that digital books have made their way into homes, classrooms, and story time laps.
While digital books have benefits, they aren’t a replacement for physical books. Physical books have a lot to offer, especially in the early years when children’s brains are developing rapidly.
Reading is About More Than Learning Words
If you’ve been surprised by your child’s intuitive understanding of your smartphone, you know how fast young children learn. Unlike adults who know what paper feels, looks, smells and tastes like, young children are still learning — with all their senses. (Don’t worry, we sanitize all the donated books we receive before they’re distributed.) When children use digital devices for reading, they miss out on important experimenting, processing and learning.
Bonding With Books
Hopefully we’re all fortunate enough to have fond memories connected to books from our childhood. Perhaps it’s the way your dad read Dr. Seuss in an odd, high-pitched tone that always made you laugh. For today’s parents and grandparents, these memories are connected to, and most likely to be shared around, physical books.
Digital books for young children offer some unique features. They can be interactive and engaging in ways that physical books cannot. However, these features are not a replacement for parents. The bonding that occurs between young children and parents over books is extremely valuable. Reading children’s books, both physical and digital, should be a shared experience.
Physical Books Offer a Break From the Digital World
Most children are already exceeding the daily screen time recommendation set by the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to a 2017 report from Common Sense, children between the ages of two and four spend an average of two hours and 39 minutes with screen media (TV, mobile devices, video games etc.) each day. Physical books offer opportunities for “unplugged” time.
Benefits of Digital Books
While digital books are no replacement for physical books, they have benefits. Digital books can be interactive and individualized in ways that physical books cannot.
When reading on digital devices, minimize distractions that compete for children’s, and their parents’, attention and disrupt valuable, immersive reading experiences.