Turning the Page: Why Reading Physical Books is Vital to Your Child’s Education

[Baby Hoots-Big Hoots and beyond (ages 6 months-12 years old)]

In a world of technology, the magical pages of books look dull and prehistoric compared to the glow of our screens. If there are so many wonderful stories for our children to scroll, click, and swipe through, why continue bothering with reading physical books? 

What’s the point? 

Well, children’s minds are extremely susceptible and technology is highly influential. Otherwise known as the perfect storm! Luckily, we have the ability to ensure sunny skies. We must be intentional about what digital media our children are consuming. And when it comes to reading, we at Book Nook are huge advocates for the benefits of not only reading every day, but physically being able to turn the page. 

What should you know?

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, children 18-months and younger should have no screen time (unless it’s to video chat a loved one of course!). Children ages 2-5 should have a limit of 1-hour of screen time per day. If this seems like a surprisingly small amount of time, you are not alone in that feeling. In fact,  the average toddler in the U.S. spends over 2-hours per day consuming digital media. 

Now, this is not to say that technology is an evil to be feared. It is a wonderful tool with many benefits, which is why the keyword is limit. The quality of media your child consumes is also a factor. Is it active and engaging, or passive and distracting?  Teaching children healthy boundaries with technology is essential. When those boundaries become blurred, there can be negative effects on your child’s development and education. 

What are the negative effects? 

Technology makes children accustomed to “instant gratification” from a very young age. As a result, digital media has proven to lower attention spans and hurt a person’s ability to think critically and creatively. The digital world moves at the speed of light and we are losing the ability to slow down and consume on a deep level.

So how are books part of the solution?

Kindles, literacy apps, and YouTube channels can seem easy and enticing, and many are wonderful and engaging for children! But it is vital that the magic of storytime not be lost in the digital abyss. Reading physical books with your child is one of the most important things you can do for their social, emotional, and educational development. 

Studies have shown that parents and children speak and engage more when reading physical books versus e-books. Physically slowing down to turn the page creates space and time. Your child is more likely to ask questions and engage with the story. Parents and caregivers are more likely to discuss the book with their children and make connections to their own lives. This is essential to not only building literacy skills but building empathy and a sense of identity. Research has proven that the most rewarding literacy experiences occur when physically reading books with our little ones.

What do we do at Book Nook? 

At Book Nook, we surround our students with books and stories that they can physically touch: paperback, hardcover, board books, pop-up books, you name it! Storytime in our reading garden is a central part of each class. We read books that have to do with our weekly themes and always encourage children to ask questions, make connections, and share their own stories. Not only are children learning to read and write, but they are also igniting their curiosity, learning to think critically, and deepening their emotional intelligence.   

But what about the pandemic? 

In the past few years, virtual learning and reading have become a necessity. The global pandemic forced educators to navigate the online world in a way they never had before. We have all experienced screen fatigue and worry about what the effects will be on our children’s education and social interactions. As we continue to navigate an increasingly digital world, the keywords to consider are limits, boundaries, and quality.    

But remember, no matter the quality, digital media should never replace pure storytime. Nothing compares to snuggling up with your child and getting lost in a story together. Whether it’s in the morning during breakfast, at the park on a sunny day, or tucked under the covers moments before your child’s eyelids droop and they leave the book’s world to enter the world of dreams, find time to read.   

In a world where everything moves too fast, these valuable moments are the ones that will most help your child’s growth… and these are the moments you both will cherish. 

There is always time to turn the page.   

Book Nook 10th Anniversary Celebration

Bibliography

Klass, Perri. “How Children Read Differently From Books vs. Screens.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Mar. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/16/well/family/children-reading-screens-books.html.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Screen Time and Children: How to Guide Your Child .” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 10 Feb. 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/screen-time/art-20047952#:~:text=Developing%20screen%20time%20rules&text=If%20you%20introduce%20digital%20media,doesn’t%20work%20as%20well.

Mostafavi, Beata. “Which Books Are Better for Toddlers – Digital or Traditional?” World Economic Forum, 16 Dec. 2021, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/12/print-books-tablets-reading-toddlers-education/.

Prout, Todd. “The Negative Effects of Technology on Children.” National University, 13 May 2021, https://www.nu.edu/resources/negative-effects-of-technology-on-children-what-can-you-do/.

Rapaport, Lisa. “Toddlers Gain More from Printed Books than from e-Books.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 26 Mar. 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-toddlers-ebooks/toddlers-gain-more-from-printed-books-than-from-e-books-idUSKCN1R72PD.

Western Governors University. “Impact of Technology on Kids Today (and Tomorrow).” Western Governors University, Western Governors University, 25 Aug. 2020, https://www.wgu.edu/blog/impact-technology-kids-today-tomorrow1910.html#openSubscriberModal.