Study: Preschoolers Learn Similarly for Digital and Print Books

Reading stories aloud to children has long been proven to boost early literacy skills, but less has been revealed about the impact of a story’s format on learning. Now, new research says that preschool-age children will comprehend a story in both digital and print formats if they enjoy the story’s content.

According to an announcement from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development (NYU Steinhardt), researchers recently conducted a study, funded by Amazon, that found children ages 3 to 4 comprehend stories “equally well” regardless of the medium used to tell the story. 

For the study, four storybooks were read aloud to 38 children. Two of the books were digital stories from Speakaboos, a free literacy app, and had interactive animation, text narration and additional features. The other two were print books. After the children listened to each story, they were tested for “story comprehension, vocabulary and motivation for reading across media formats”; researchers found “no significant differences.”

Furthermore, the study concluded that while nothing can exactly mimic the experience of an adult reading aloud to a child, “there are certain features in video that might enhance word learning, especially for children with limited vocabulary,” said Susan Neuman, a professor of childhood and literacy education at NYU Steinhardt, in the announcement. Neuman co-authored the study with Kevin Wong, a doctoral student in the Department of Teaching and Learning at NYU Steinhardt, as well as Tanya Kaefer, a professor at the Department of Education at Lakehead University in Canada.

The research was presented at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting in San Antonio, May 1.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].