Another study* just came out to say that our comprehension is better when we read an actual paper book instead of reading the same book on a digital screen.
Because paper books stimulate a wider variety of senses than screens do, activating deeper memory banks in the brain. The increased sensory experience of book reading fires more neuronal pathways which translates into more brain activity and more brain connections resulting in better recall.
Emotions like empathy, character identification and emersion are higher with paper book reading and these emotions help with recall. According to the study, the ability to recall accurate chronicle order of the story is also higher with paper book reading. The feeling of where you are in the story is physically apparent in a book as finished pages move from your right hand to your left hand. The touch and feel of a book is very different than the touch and feel of a screen. Screens are also bright and distracting which may cause a bit more detachment.
Ask your children what they think, mine were full of reasons why real books are better. My 16 year old said:
“A real book is more cozy, it makes me feel more than a screen. A screen is more like doing homework and not as much fun for a good story you want to enjoy. A paperback novel also smells different from a textbook and the pages feel different.
If I really have to study something it is easier if I print it out and read it on paper. If I just need quick information, skimming is OK on a screen.
The color of the paper is different and easier on my eyes than the bright screen and the font is sometimes easier to read in a paper book.
Real books are also easier to share with friends and when you read a good book that is what you are gonna want to do. I love a really good book, I don’t love my screen the same way.”
From my 4th graders: “A Kindle is a cheated book, it doesn’t have all the same stuff a real book has. It is fun to turn the pages with a real book, it makes you feel like you are getting done when you see all the pages you have read and you can show your brother how far you are. In a screen book you can’t tell where you are in the story. The Kindle has no color, it is just boring white and there is no book cover. Book covers are really cool sometimes and help you with the story because you look at them over and over. The screen might run out of battery right in the middle of a good part, my book doesn’t need a battery; that helps when you are reading in bed – you don’t have to get up and try to find the plug under your bed.”
From my mom perspective, many family memories are made around books so don’t be so quick to trade that cuddly reading time for a screen. As far as older kids go, be sensitive to the benefits of paper books, your teen is still working on their comprehension skills which is easier on paper. It is also easier to flip back and forth and mark pages when you are trying to re-read and understand a concept.
Does your child not like to read? Find a subject he loves and find a book and offer to sit with him to read it. Does he like sports? Find an age appropriate autobiography for him. Before too long he may just be immersed in the story making more brain connections on his way to learning to love to read. Ask your kids what they think about their favorite books, do they have feelings of attachment to them? They love their books for a good reason and science is now proving it!