Can screen time be story time? Yes! Used appropriately, technology can be just as effective as reading a print book. Apps and e-books, also known as digital media, offer the same benefits. We know the importance of reading to children beginning at birth. Digital media offers parents and care givers access to an online library of hundreds of books.
Reading aloud to children sparks their curiosity, exposes them to language not heard in everyday conversations, creates a stronger connection between child and adult, and builds early literacy skills. This means they will be ready to learn to read when they begin school. While screen time is not recommended for young babies, older babies, toddlers and preschoolers benefit from the read-aloud experience that digital media can offer. Interactive apps and e-books are engaging and expose children to new ideas and skills.
So what is the best way to share digital picture books? Ideas + Inspiration offers a list of best practices for using digital media with toddlers and preschoolers.
- Choose digital books in a format that is as simple as possible. If your goal is to read to your child, use books without all the extra bells and whistles. Search for classic picture books in a digital format.
- Turn off the narration. Especially during the first few times with a new digital book, read the book in your own voice, pause, ask questions and fully engage in the wonderful parent-child conversation that makes the read-aloud experience so rich for young children. Just as with traditional books, children will learn to “read” them independently. Encourage them to do this without the narration and to tell the story as they remember it by looking at the pictures.
- Use the manual instead of auto setting. This allows you and your child to move through the book at a comfortable pace and to turn back a page or two whenever your child wants to.
Zero to Three gives adults useful tips for using screen media with young children. Screen time used passively, without adult interaction or as a “babysitter” is screen time that offers no benefit to the child. Follow tips-for-using-screen-media-with-young-children-1 to make screen time a shared experience. Tumblebooks or Download Destination are great resources for e-books.
In Story Time today we read How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers. I used an e-book on the iPad displayed on the big screen. I read it the same way I read print books — I even had to turn the pages. It was much easier for everyone to see and I was able to hold the attention of even the youngest in attendance. Exposing children to 21st century technology is not a bad thing.
See you in the Story Time Room!