What is better for your child’s reading?
This week, our contributor Claire tells us why she prefers physical books over e-books when reading with her children.
Although 2020 has been extremely difficult in so many ways, most of us are very fortuante to have had access to technology, which has so richly enhanced the learning experience for many children and young people during their time away from school. However, the lockdown did serve to highlight the prevelence of digital poverty, and the impact that this had on children’s ability to access lessons and communicate with their teachers. Although sadly I know that this won’t be the case for all, I sincerely hope that at least some of these children had a few books at home, which I am sure will have proved so valuable in furthering their learning away from the classroom.
Lockdown made me miss physical books
We were very fortunate to have a computer that our children could access at home. However, I must admit that we did sorely miss receiving a reading book from school for each of them: the excitement of opening their reading folders to see what was on the front cover, the pride in finishing it and the anticipation of what their teacher would choose for them next. Fortunately, my children’s school buy into a digital book subscription, so they were able to continue accessing new texts in some form throughout lockdown, and I am certainly very grateful for that. However, it did strike me how inferior the experience of reading these digital books was in comparison to the real books we had been used to receiving. Whilst the digital book afforded many of the things reading a physical book achieves, I couldn’t help but think that some important aspects were missing.
Physical books provide reading fun for every age
There’s just something about a real book, don’t you think? For one, you can vary the materials a real book is made from. This means that even the youngest of children can have access to texts in the form of fabric and board books, which will withstand most of what a baby can throw at them since most can be either machine washed or wiped clean. But in addition to this, the variation in materials means they can incorporate sensory experiences, such as those found in ‘touchy feely’ books and those with squeakers built in. They are also portable and can be ready to distract a toddler mid-tantrum at a second’s notice without the worry of the distress that the theft of or damage to a phone would cause.
For early readers, there are important skills to be acquired from reading real books that are absent from digital books: developing sufficient control and dexterity to turn the pages and becoming effective in using your finger to help you keep track of where you are on the page lay an important foundation for what is to come.
However, what I missed the most about being without our real school books was the special, happy, fulfilling family moments that they had afforded us.
This is not to say that we couldn’t make precious memories together in other ways, or that technology couldn’t be part of this. Indeed, I will never forget the tremendous fun of all the baking, creating, moving and making that went on during that unusual time. Fortunately we do have story books in the house that we could share together whenever we wanted. But what I really wanted to do was to snuggle with my children before bed, one arm around each of them, with a book that they could have the pleasure of reading, enjoying that immense sense of satisfaction at the end. Given that my children are 4 and 5 as I write this, only specially designed phonics reader books would offer my children that sense of achievement. The average story book at this stage in their education would be too challenging.
Yes, we had access to these online during the day, but there’s a reason why reading a book in the evening is such a time-honoured parenting technique: as well as promoting learning, it’s conducive to sleep in a way that the light emitted from a device isn’t. And more conducive to cuddles. That is why I love the book subscription for kids from The Bear Can Read the books are just the right level for my kids and the worksheets and activities make for some fun family time that is perfect for those long winter days spent at home.
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