The march of technology may seem unstoppable, but all digital things may have a way to go before they replace the traditional bedtime book—the paper one. A new study shows that paper books are better than e-books for bedtime reading. The study suggests that the good old printed book, with real pages that you turn with your fingers, makes parents and children interact more than they do when reading with an electronic book. Researchers from the University of Michigan studied how 37 pairs of parents and children interacted with e-books and paper books. The researchers found that with electronic books, parents asked their children fewer questions and made fewer comments about the story.
The study involved observing parents and children (aged two or three) reading from three different book formats. These were printed books, basic e-books on a tablet, and enhanced e-books with features such as animation, graphics and sound effects. The researchers discovered that the parents and children interacted with each other less with both types of e-books than they did with the printed books. A researcher said that when they did speak, they were far likelier to talk about the device and the technology rather than about the story. Children were likelier to say things like, “don’t push that button” or “don’t change the volume” than ask questions or make observations about the story.