#TechTuesday: E-Readers vs. Paper Books for Children

Getting lost in a book is one of my great childhood memories.  I remember being so proud of my Baby Sitters Club and R.L Stine collection that I had so neatly shelved in my bedroom.

But with all the e-readers today, are paper books going out of style?

Since I recently received an iPad, I’ve been reading a lot of e-books. And my two boys, who are ages 6 and 3, love to get their hands on it. So I decided to compare the two to see if I could decide if there are benefits to electronic books, particularly with children’s material.

From my experience, here are the pros and cons.

E-Reader Pros

  • Dictionary – This is very handy. If my boys come across a new word, all we need to do is tap the dictionary icon for the definition.  This is a fun way for the kids to discover new words and meanings.  And I am elated when they use those new words!
  • Space saver – E-books don’t take up any extra space.
  • Fun – My boys love to take turns turning the pages with the touch screen.
  • More versatility – In addition to e-books, my boys love to play games and use interactive apps.  Their favorites are Angry Birds and Snoopy’s Fair, but I prefer they practice more educational games.

E-Reader Cons

  • Cost – An e-reader device can be pricey as well as the purchase of e-books. (However, you can check out e-books for free through the public library.)
  • Not shareable – E-books can’t be sold, traded or loaned to others.
  • Battery life – Some devices run through their batteries quickly.
  • Distractions – There may be too many distractions with e-readers.  Children may be tempted to touch on other things within the e-book.

Aside from my list of pros and cons, research has shown that traditional books are best for young children because they allow them to maintain focus on literacy skills.  Paper books are also great for teaching young children how to handle the pages and have fun with interactive books such as pop-up books and lift-the-flap books.

Studies have also shown the advantages of e-readers, particularly in helping older children maintain their excitement for books. And if that motivates my children to want to read or have more stories read to them, then so be it.

But there is nothing like having a great paperback or board book to cozy up with every night.  These will fill the shelves in my boys’ rooms for many years.  And some old favorites will be packed up and stored for memories and grandchildren.  Just can’t do that with an e-reader.

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