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Sharing books with young children is known to be one of the most enriching and educationally beneficial activities that parents can do with their young children at home.

Shared book reading is typically associated with a parent and child sitting down snuggled together with a printed book. However, increasingly, printed books are being replaced with digital books downloaded on a reading device such as a tablet or Kindle, and in many families a quiet bedtime reading routine is becoming more akin to watching TV or playing a video game.

Research shows that the reading format can significantly change the parent-child dynamics, with children being more distracted and subsequently learning less with the digital books rather than printed books. On the other hand, the digital format offers new exciting possibilities for drawing children’s attention to texts and parent-child bonding.

There are many factors at play here; some of these are new to the digital format, some of these are the same as when reading printed books. For any reading format, the quality of the text as well as the need for language support parents can provide, are key. Conversely, some features are only possible with the digital format- such as, the possibility to audio-record some text passages or reading the same book with relatives via skype.

Our project

We want to make sure that parents, caregivers, educators and practitioners have access to the latest research evidence and develop a tool to share some inspirational practices. These efforts build on previous work and available resources in this area. Namely, the National Literacy Trust developed the digital evaluation tool “Literacy Apps” which showcases high-quality digital books and reading/writing apps for children. It also builds on the panel discussion at RSA in February 2016, which brought together insights from children’s publishers, researchers, digital producers and UK’s leading literacy charities.

The £2k RSA Catalyst Funding will help us create an engaging video resource for parents and educators and to hold focus groups with parents and teachers local to Manchester. The project is also supported by EdLab - an education lab at Manchester Metropolitan University that encourages MMU students to actively participate in the local community and engage in the design and delivery of educational projects.

Getting involved

If you are based in Manchester, please consider participating at our local event where we will want to showcase some case studies. Further details will be shared at the RSA Manchester Meetup on 31 October; if you’re unable to attend the meetup, please contact me, Natalia Kucirkova FRSA: for more information.

If there is a specific resource, personal experience, perspective or research study you would like us to consider as we put this resource together, please get in touch or share your views with other readers in the comment box below by the end of December 2016.

We look forward to hearing from you!


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