You are here

Do eBooks Count As Real Reading?

Melissa Taylor

Last week a parent asked me if comic books counted as real reading. Of course they do!  Parents ask me the same thing about digital books. Do they count as real books? The answer is also yes. Digital books count.

Yesterday, The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop released a Print Book vs. E-Book Report concluding that: “Both the print and basic e-book elicited similar levels of content-related actions (e.g., labeling, pointing, and verbal elaboration of story features) from the children and parents.”

But, not all digital books are created equal. And the difference isn’t in quality of writing– which is certainly can be a difference – the big difference is the type of eBook, basic or enhanced. Basic eBooks tell a story accompanied with illustrations. Enhanced eBooks tell a story with interactive elements like pop-ups, sound effects, games, or animation.

The Print Books vs. E-Books Report revealed that: “Parent-child pairs engaged less with the content of the story when reading the enhanced e-book than when reading the print book.”

Now that is something to note. Sounds like then enhanced books aren't as good for comprehension and engagement with the story line. 

As you ponder what this means for your family and your schools, this is what author/illustrators/cartoonists, Mo Willems said last year about enhanced digital books.

"And I think that’s what most enhanced digital books are at this point. With all their bells and whistles and word jumbles and assorted narrative killers, after we turn them on, they don’t need us. Turn it on and leave the room, and the book will read itself.

But a real book is helpless. It needs us desperately. We have to pull it off the shelf. We have to open it up. We have to turn the pages, one by one. We even have to use our imagination to make it work. What does Elephant Gerald sound like? Is the Pigeon a boy or a girl? Does Leonardo the Terrible Monster live in the city or in the country?

We have to do all of that, we have to do the work with our little minds and our flapping flights of fancy. So, suddenly, that book is not just a book; it’s our book. We’re the ones making it work. We’re the ones making it sing. Right there in our chairs as we gently flip the pages, we are, at our own pace, creating a living story just by reading.”


Do you agree?