Monday, February 17, 2014

Reading ebooks together: Using ebooks and digital media with young children (Part 2)

Kindle kids, via Eric Rice, Flikr
Parents are beginning to explore digital reading opportunities with their kids. Everyone has different tastes. The real trick, in my opinion, is to figure out what fits you and your family. Engage in this conversation together. Try different things out. Talk with your kids about what they like. Above all, read together in lots of different ways.

One mom I know keeps a digital book loaded on her phone so she can read aloud to her kids when they’re stuck waiting for an appointment. Digital audiobooks keep your place saved for each time you come back to your book, often syncing between devices as well.

Many children who are beginning to read like increasing the font size on ebooks. One avid young reader said,
“I like it when I can’t see how many pages I have left, especially when I’m reading a really long book.”
A heavy print book can seem intimidating. Reluctant readers find reading on a digital device appealing because their “just right” book looks just the same as everyone else’s book. The built-in dictionary, speech-to-text and audiobook syncing abilities of digital books can be a huge advantage to children struggling to read.

Explore your public library collection of ebooks; these collections are growing every month! You can download books to your smartphone, computer or tablet. Explore your library website or ask for help. I’ve found that the user interfaces of sites like Overdrive and Axis360 are continually improving.

Reading together, via Robyn Jay, Flickr
Consider interactive book apps, especially ones that integrate audio narration, word highlighting and interactive features. Some of my favorites apps available on the iTunes App Store for young children are Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night, Cinderella and Jack & the Beanstalk by Nosy Crow, and The Monster at the End of This Book.

As you read together, talk about what you find interesting, how the story is coming to life in your imagination, what it makes you wonder about.

Read all the parts of this series, Using ebooks and digital media with young children. I'll share my thoughts in six parts:
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this emerging field. What engages your kids? What do you look for when you choose digital media for your children?

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. It is interesting to think about how e-books can help struggling new readers. In my family, we are dragging our feet with much of this new technology, but I am aware that it will be a part of my son's life, whether or not we like it!

    1. I'm especially interested how readers are listening to audiobooks these days. My children love listening to an audiobook and drawing. But what about kids who want to listen and read at the same time? I keep trying to figure out how technology will help this task.

      In the end, I believe that I benefit by trying new technology, thinking how to use it best, and what limits/guidance to provide for children.

  2. Ebooks are the thing of the present, not the future anymore! Ebooks are a great option for kids. They can incorporate drawing, music, sounds, and read-alongs! My children's book "Adventures of the Bunny Baron: Captain Barnacle's Revenge" is available on Ebook now. Being in the printing business, the ever declining need for printed books is upon us. I feel the ebook is a great alternative. I have a friend who has a child and this story on his iPad. The child loved to have it read to him, but now he has it "memorized," where he makes up the words as he remembers them. If this was a normal book, I am told that it would be worn out, but on the iPad, it is still in perfect condition! As much as we'd hate to see the "printed word" die, ereaders bring us a whole new perspective of books, reading, and a whole new way of learning!