Last month The New York Times ran an article questioning how toddlers are being read to and what sort of effects different methods have longterm. The answer? There isn't one – yet.
Because of the newness of digital readers and tablets, not enough data exists on the subject, according to The New York Times. It is for that reason that the American Academy of Pediatrics intentionally did not mention eBooks when issuing its statement in June about the importance of reading from birth.
'"There’s a lot of interaction when you’re reading a book with your child,"' as Pediatrician Dr. Pamela High was quoted saying in The Times. '"You’re turning pages, pointing at pictures, talking about the story. Those things are lost somewhat when you’re using an eBook."'
App developers claim the interactivity of tablets help children pick up language skills faster, but according to the article, researchers in a 2013 study found children ages 3 to 5 who were read to from an eBook had lower reading comprehension than children whose parents used traditional books.
The Times article goes on to discuss both sides of the argument, but ultimately says that children learn language best when they are being talked with, not talked at. So until there is any concrete data proving otherwise, I'm going to go ahead and say good, old-fashioned books win this battle, once again.
For me, the best part of the article came at the end, and it is a point that only further pushes me to continue on my path of public librarianship:
'"Lilly definitely has an iPad, and there are education apps she uses," Amy Reid, a publicist at CNBC, said of her 4-year-old. "But for her, there is nothing like the excitement of choosing her own book and bringing it home from the library."'