This Is Your Child's Brain on E-Books

It's been quite awhile since we sat in a higher education lecture hall, but we recently found ourselves studying a piece published in the Princeton Alumni Weekly by English professor William Gleason. 

The topic: kid lit (so much easier to get into than Chaucer) and iPads (add in a Starbucks run and this is our life, folks).

Gleason's piece takes a look at digital books for children, one of the e-book market's highest growth areas, he notes. So is reading on a gadget, rather than thumbing through an actual book made of paper, a good thing or a bad thing?

"Critics of children's digital books say they encourage skimming over deep reading," Gleason writes, "that children who use digital devices are more interested in playing games than in turning pages, and that parents who read digital books with their children don't interact with young readers the same way as when reading traditional print books."

However, he also notes that e-book fans say kids like digital books better, and, since comprehension doesn't seem to suffer depending on the format, they're more likely to read more if they enjoy using the iPad or tablet.

Studies, according to Gleason, haven't really offered an answer -- but some are concerned letting a kid read on the iPad could take away from parent-child interaction.

We're happy with a combination of actual and virtual books, although we have far more actual books at hand than e-books in our house. In fact, our daughters seem to love equally their dad's old Sesame Street classic of The Monster at the End of This Book and the e-version on Mom's iPhone.

Of course, the e-book comes in handy when you're waiting at the dentist's office, or trying to finish work or dinner. But we aren't ready to let go of a good cuddle with a book you can open and flip through just yet.

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