Nearly two-thirds of children will always want to read print books even though there are ebooks available. Literacy advocate and teacher Donna Rasmussen thinks this is because “We are tactile creatures. We will judge books by their covers and that’s okay,” she said. “We do many creative things with books we can’t with digital, like building a poetry out of book spines.”
Recent research conducted by BookTrust in association with the Open University revealed that 76% of surveyed parents found their children prefer print books for reading for pleasure and 69% prefer print books for educational reading. As for interactive e-books, only 30% of parents said that their child prefers using them for reading for pleasure, and 34% for educational reading. Only 15% of parents said that children prefer using simple e-books for reading for pleasure and educational reading.
The study found that reasons for preferring print books over e-books included children enjoying turning the book’s pages, owning their own book and choosing books from the library.
One of the big reasons why kids read print is because when it comes to story-time, parents prefer reading a tangible book. A 2012 survey from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, a New York-based non-profit dedicated to studying and promoting children’s reading, asked 1,200 parents who read with their children on what platform they preferred doing so and what platform they thought their children preferred. A majority answered “print” to both questions. Meanwhile, a November New York Times report suggested parents don’t like reading to their kids digitally because of negative perceptions around screen time for children.
I think the main reason why kids like print better is because they can get a sense of progression. When you read a long printed book, you consciously or subconsciously track your progress by sensing the ratio of the pages read to the pages yet to be read. If the middle section is less interesting, you are more likely to ploy through by being encouraged that you are making physical progress through the book. This tactile feel of progress is an analog estimation and is more natural than a digital page number. If an eBook drags in the middle chapters, how often have you closed the file, never to open it again? Unless the subject is truly compelling, kids are unlikely to finish an entire eBook.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.