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Experts worry tablets may not help children while they are learning basic reading skills

Posted at 3:42 PM, Jun 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-10 21:49:09-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Most children begin the reading journey with their parents reading them bedtime stories. For a lot of children a crucial bonding moment occurs when the child is introduced to the page turn and the excitement of stories.

But once we introduce a tablet to children they are often left alone. The story and the text don’t change, but their connection to their first teacher is broken often leaving them without an easy resource to answer their questions.

"We expect them to do that independently when really they need your support,” said UNLV Associate Professor Sophie Ladd.

Ladd said parents make the biggest mistake when it comes to introducing children to digital books too early. Without knowledge of how to use the dictionary and other functions on the devices she said young readers run into a barrier that isn't any different than handing them a new book and walking away.

"We have to introduce kids to literature that is going to interest them,” Ladd said.

Studies show there is a slight drop in comprehension in reading from a screen compared to paper. But the difference is typically seen in expository writings like textbooks. When it comes to kids absorbing what they read literacy professors said the important thing isn't how the child is reading but rather how the book was selected.

"I don't care what mode children are reading as long as they are self-selecting, “she said.

That is the real key to improving reading skills according to the UNLV educators.

"Those kids who would consider themselves readers, " Ladd said. " Are reading what they love."

The best way to do that is with regular trips to the library especially with school out for the summer. Even if you can't take your children to the library that is where an e-reader can work wonders in giving children access to digital catalogs anywhere they have Wi-Fi.

"Finding opportunities for your child to go to the library in the summer is a key opportunity to give that kid something they would like to read,"she said.

Once you start seeing the types of books your child picks out you can research reading ladders that offer other types of books that could interest your child.

"If I can watch what they are reading," said Ladd. "I can maybe suggest the next thing."

Whether it is magazines, books or comics, the important thing during the summer for parents to do is to get your children reading.

"Fifteen minutes a day have shown significant increases in students’ ability to continue to read," said Ladd.