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How Can Parents and Children Best Interact Using E-readers?

Can the satisfaction of flipping pages together be replicated digitally?

By Edward Nawotka

ipad books

Can a parent and child get cozy over an e-reader or an iPad? Maybe so. E-readers themselves are not the ideal platform for very young children. They aren’t very tactile or interactive. At most, my own daughter would simply bang the buttons on my Kindle 1 (RIP); now that she’s older, she’s also shown little interest in my new e-ink reader either. My iPad . . . we’ll that’s another story. Though she’s just approaching four years old, my daughter knows how to navigate the device and can happily spend time using her Pokoyo Gamebox or painting with KidArt. And yes, sometimes we play the games together.

Reading is another matter.

Sure, I can let her watch as her Dr. Seuss or Ladybug Girl apps “read to her,” but that’s a distinctly unsatisfying experience for me and, often, for her. She much prefers it when I read the story to her while she swipes through the pages or else interacts with the app by launching pop-up bubbles and other effects.

That said, I’m still disinclined to take the iPad to read to her a night. We stop her use of the device well before its time to take a bath and get ready for bed. For starters, I don’t want her to be kept awake by the blue light from the screen. Second, it’s just not quite as much fun as sitting with an over-sized hardcover book in bed across our laps, flipping excitedly through the pages. The tactile feedback of each flipping page offers a sense of satisfaction, a little burst of serotonin. As I discussed last month, “It’s a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that can’t quite be replicated digitally.”

So, how do you and your children interact using e-readers? Have you favorite apps that allow for more interaction? If so, tell us in the comments below and we’ll put them on our list for Santa.

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