Growing Readers!

Parent Tips for Raising Strong Readers and Writers

Growing Readers!
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Girl with iPad

How to Read an E-Book with Your Child

Electronic books, called e-books, are becoming more and more commonplace these days. Some readers, like the first-generation Kindle and Nook devices, offer a basic digital version of a print book. Children scroll through the pages to read, and the experience is somewhat similar to reading a traditional book.

Newer, full-color, touchscreen devices such as iPads and the Nook Color have expanded what is possible to include e-books with many more features. These “enhanced” e-books offer a 

different reading experience. Often bought as apps through iTunes, these e-books provide lots of choice. A user can choose have the whole book read to them, or can choose to read the book themselves. E-book enhancements consist of a range of things, but often include listening to music that complements the story, playing story-related games, completing coloring pages, and more. Most children find interactive e-books fun and engaging. But do they help develop important early literacy skills such as letter names and letter sounds or more complex skills such as comprehension? 

The e-book market is too young to have enough solid research on the topic to know for sure yet, but researchers have spent lots of time watching families with young children engage with e-books. These observations suggest that it’s easy for kids to get carried away with the digital nature of the e-book. Parents can help keep the focus on reading and the story by following three simple suggestions: 

1. Recognize the novelty factor. The first few times your child is interacting with a new 

e-book, allow time for exploration of the features. Once your child has spent some time exploring, set out to read or listen to the story without too many non-story related 


2. Enjoy the features, but don’t forget to focus on the story. See if you can help your child find a balance between having fun with the games and sticker books and really enjoying and understanding the story. As with all books, engage your reader in conversations about the story. “What do you think will happen next? What is your favorite part of 

the story?” 

3. Stay present with your child and the book experience. It’s tempting to let the device do the work – read the story, play a game and interact with your child. But there’s no 

substitute for quality parent-child conversation. Keep talking, commenting on interest ing words and ideas, and sharing your love of literacy with your child. 


Children and Digital Media: Rethinking Parent Roles 

Smartphones and tablets are on nearly every dinner table and nightstand, and even our youngest children interact with technology on a daily basis. Because technology is so much a part of our everyday lives, parents have to work pretty hard to keep up with what’s out there. But more than knowing the latest must-have app or game, parents may need to reconsider how they connect with their child during technology use.

Some experts suggest that adults – parents, teachers, librarians – need to consider their role as one of a “media mentor,” a trusted adult who engage with children to use technology in creative and interesting ways, beyond games and flashing lights. This sharing can lead to interesting conversations between parent and child, can boost language development, and can lead to a healthy attitude about media and technology. 

There are two areas in which technology may provide a good literacy boost: an exposure to new words and ideas, and helping children learn more about topics they’re interested in exploring. Here’s how:

Exposure to new words: Research suggests that carefully designed programming, for example PBS’s SuperWhy! on PBS, can improve children’s language development, letter knowledge, and understanding of sounds. Beyond educational television, other media experiences such as watching an author read and talk about a book, interacting with e-books that contain interesting and exciting words, and engaging with quality apps that promote word growth can all help exposure young children to new words and ideas.

Learning more about interesting topics: Does your child love butterflies? Construction equipment? Soccer? Regardless of topic, one can find interesting pictures, video and text about that topic. As your child’s first teacher, spend some time familiarizing yourself with some of the reputable sources online and the types of media available. By doing the background work before sitting down with your child, you will be able to use your media time together for exploration and learning. 

Regardless of the technology you and your child are using together, be an active participant. Make sure your child is following along and understanding what’s going on. Keep the conversation flowing with lots of back-and-forth talk. Model healthy technology use by keeping an eye on the time. Most importantly, recognize your changing role in helping your young learner navigate the digital world.

For more information: 

How True Are Our Assumptions about Screen Time? By Lisa Guernsey. Retrieved from: 


• Educational Literacy Apps