Calling all SLPs, Educators and Parents… Do you have reluctant readers that can happily spend every spare minute glued to a device? E-books are perfect for sparking a new love of reading!
There are a variety of reasons why children may find e-books more engaging than printed books.
- In various research articles, children report they find reading books uncomfortable due to the print size, font, number of words on the page, lack of visual images, and dullness of a book page vs. ebook page.
- Other studies have suggested that this could have benefits for children with learning disorders, dyslexia, or visual processing disorders.
- The accessibility and convenience of e-books also makes them more attractive than print texts. Adolescents often have their tablet or smartphones at their sides, so it’s more convenient to read an e-book on their device rather than taking a paper book out with them.
- Students are less likely to be self-conscious about being seen reading if they’re using technology to do it. Unfortunate but TRUE!!
The reason why boys in particular benefit from reading e-books is unclear. One theory is that boys spend more time on computers than girls and are more comfortable with them in general, which makes digital reading a more appealing option.
I’m a big fan of e-books, interactive book websites and apps; however, sometimes the cool graphics, additional games or activities distract from the literacy element. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the extra bells and whistles and definitely utilize them as reinforcers, behavioral momentum boosters and activities to engage busy students while I spend a little extra 1:1 time with those that need it. Below are some tips for utilizing e-books to increase speech and language skills:
📖Utilize the read-only mode when you first introduce a new book. Limiting the interactive features of the e-book during the first reading can be used to boost participation and focus on the literary elements while students anticipate interacting with the additional interactive games and tools.
📖Stop and talk about it- Allow students to have discussions, ask questions and laugh! Remember they are more engaged when it is interesting, fun or relatable.
📖Make predictions and go beyond the story – Connect events in the story to things that have happened in your student’s lives. Going beyond the story also involves talking about why things happen in the story, and what might happen later in the story. Use open-ended questions and comments like, “I wonder what would happen if…”
📖Describe and define – Use the pictures and animations in the e-book to help explain new words.
Some of my favorite apps and sites for e-books: Vooks, Epic!, Bookful, Reading A-Z, Wilbooks, Magicblox, International’s Children’s Digital Library, Scribd, Reading IQ, Freckle, NewsELA, Scholastic News, Storynory & Oxford Owl.
Spring 2019 Mobile Ages: 2 – 8 yrs. Price: $4.99 Platform: iOS
Vooks is a curated, virtual library filled with narrated and animated ebooks. The website features countless titles that were new to me and my family as well as many well-loved favorites such as Harold and the Purple Crayon, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and The Snowy Day. Children can browse titles and hover over their thumbnails to get a brief synopsis of each book and then take their pick. The narrators are well-chosen and the experience dressed up with music and sounds that make sense for the story. The words are highlighted as they are read to help children follow along and learn new words. All books are vibrantly animated.
Save Your Sanity and TIME – No Print, No Prep Resources
Spring 2019 Mobile Ages: 2 – 12 yrs. Download Price: $7.99 Platform: iOS/Android
Epic! is an appropriate name for an app that features (as of this review) over 25,000 ebooks, audiobooks, and 2,500 videos. This virtual library features content for children aged twelve years and under –both narrated titles and titles for children to read independently – all nicely categorized by age and topic.
The subscription-based app offers a free one-month trial with users charged $7.99 per month thereafter. The app accommodates up to four reader profiles, and unlimited access to the vast library.
Spring 2019 Mobile Ages: 3 – 8 yrs. Platform: iOS
Bookful is an online library of ebooks for children each with options to experience the book in 3D or Augmented Reality. The tutorial clearly explains how to move through the book and what to expect from perspective as well as the modes.
Each book includes two modes: Read and Play. In “Read” Mode, children follow along to a narrated story with three-dimensional animations. There are memory matching games, hidden object games, spelling games and more.
This is by far the most affordable place to find books for guided reading. It does cost a little over $100 per year per classroom. While that sounds like a lot, you have access to hundreds of books that you can print in color or grayscale. Make multiple copies bind them with a clip or rubber band (or simply slide into a gallon-sized plastic bag), and you can start creating your own book room.
Another cool thing? You can preview the book (every single page) before printing, so you’ll know whether it’s right for your learners.
I’ve seen a lot of leveled passages, which can be excellent for use in a guided reading lesson. But buyer beware – they come in a range of quality.
Scholastic Book Orders
I would use your Scholastic book orders as a way to stock up on multiple copies of leveled books.
From Scholastic website: Book Club teachers earn FREE Books and classroom resources with every order, which makes growing your classroom library quick and effortless. So if you’re a teacher looking to enrich your curriculum while introducing students to wonderful books they’ll never forget, get started by creating your Book Club teacher account today.
Wilbooks provides over 1,000 free, downloadable books for early reading.
From Wilbooks website: Wilbooks is committed to helping educators build or maintain a classroom library. If you are looking for high quality, affordable books for guided reading, this is the place. Wilbooks is proud to offer 6 incredible programs that educators have helped design. Now teachers can get the books they need without breaking the bank.
Access Passes and Descriptions:
Use the Ladybug Access Pass to choose 1 book every month. Your selection gets reset on the day you signed up every month. If you want a few more choices per month, go with the Book Worm Access Pass, which gives you up to 5 books per month. Choose the Butterfly Access Pass and soar with an all-access pass to every book.
Books come from authors & publishers all over the world, who upload new books every day. Once reviewed and approved, they are added to the bookshelves.
Ladybug pass – 1 book per month (FREE)
Bookworm pass – 5 books per month (4.99 billed monthly)
Butterfly pass – unlimited reading and access to all books on site (38.99 billed monthly)
Related Research & Resources
- Segal-Drori, O., Korat, O. & Klein, P. S. (2013). What can better support low SES children’s emergent reading? Reading e-books and printed books with and without adult mediation. In A. Shamir & O. Korat (Eds). Technology as a support for literacy achievements for children at risk. Literacy Studies 7, Dordrecht, NL: Springer.
- Shamir, A., Korat, O. & Fellah, R. (2012). Promoting vocabulary, phonological awareness, and concept about print among children at risk for learning disability: can e-books help? Reading and Writing, 25: 45-69.
- Korat, O. & Shamir, A. (2008). The educational electronic book as a tool for supporting children’s emergent literacy in low versus middle SES groups. Computers and Education, 50, 110-124.
- Moody, A. K., Justice, L. M. & Cabell, S. Q. (2010). Electronic versus traditional storybooks: Relative influence on preschool children’s engagement and communication. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 10(3), 294-313.
- Parish-Morris, J., Mahajan, N., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Michnick Golinkoff, R. & Fuller Collins, M. (2013. Once upon a time: Parent-child dialogue and storybook reading in the electronic era. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7(3): 200-211.
- Salmon, L. (2014). Factors that affect emergent literacy development when engaging with electronic books. Early Childhood Education Journal, 42:85-92.
- Korat, O. & Or, T. (2010). How new technology influences parent-child interaction: The case of e-book reading. First Language, 30(2), 139-154.
- de Jong, M. T. & Bus, A. G. (2002). Quality of book-reading matters for emergent readers: An experiment with the same book in a regular or electronic format. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(1), 145-155.
- Smeet, D. J. H. & Bus, A. G. (2014). The interactive animated e-book as a word learning device for kindergarteners. Applied Psycholinguistics, available on CJO2014. doi:10.1017/S0142716413000556.
- Cahill, M. & McGill-Franzen, A. (2013). Selecting “app“-ealing and “app”-ropriate book apps for beginning readers. The Reading Teacher, 67(1): 30-39.
- Korat, O., Shamir, A. & Arbiv, L. (2011). E-books as support for emergent writing with and without adult assistance. Education and Information Technologies, 16, 301-318.
- Greenberg, J. & Weitzman, E. (2014). I’m Ready! How to prepare your child for reading success. Toronto: The Hanen Centre.