QuickReport: Print Books vs. E-books

Print Books vs. E-BooksComparing parent-child co-reading on print, basic, and enhanced e-book platforms

This QuickReport presents the results of our first QuickStudy exploring parent-child interactions as they read print and digital books together.  We conducted this exploratory study with our SciPlay partners at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York in an effort to tackle some of the questions we have about the growing popularity of e-books among readers of all ages. How do adults and children read e-books compared to print books? How might the nature of parent-child conversations differ across platforms? Which design features of e-books appear to support parent-child interaction? Do any features detract from these interactions?

For this study we observed families reading both basic e-books, which are essentially print books put into a digital format with minimal features like highlighting text and audio narration, and enhanced e-books, which feature more interactive multimedia options like games, videos and interactive animations.

We recruited 32 pairs of parents and their 3—6-year-old children at the New York Hall of Science’s Preschool Place.  Each pair read a print book and either an enhanced or basic e-book while researchers videotaped their interactions and took observational notes. Following the co-reading task, researchers tested the children on their comprehension of the story and interviewed parents about their reading practices at home and elsewhere.

Our key findings are outlined in this brief report, which we hope will encourage e-book producers to more thoughtfully consider their e-book designs, and spark further investigations into e-books and the possibilities of this new interactive medium to inspire, engage, or even distract parents and children from both the learning and co-reading experience.


The Cooney Center will publish findings from its survey research on modern day parent-child co-reading practices later this summer.

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