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Open Access Publications from the University of California

New Ways of Reading: The Impact of an Interactive Book on Young Children's Story Comprehension and Parent-Child Dialogic Reading Behaviors

  • Author(s): Robb, Michael Benjamin
  • Advisor(s): Wartella, Ellen A
  • Richert, Rebekah A
  • et al.

The rise of interactive technologies provides a chance to expand children's informal learning opportunities in a new direction, with the potential to support children's physical, social, and cognitive development. As emergent literacy skills are extremely important in establishing literacy trajectories upon school entry, technologies that foster early reading skills may play an important role in children's learning. Although interactive literacy toys are often presumed to have qualities that scaffold young children's literacy skills when used alone, far less research is given to the use of interactive literacy toys in supporting parent-child reading sessions.

This study examined the role of a screen-based interactive book on 4.5- to 5.5-year olds' emergent literacy skills, including story understanding, story sequencing ability, and ability to freely recall story narrative. Ninety-six children read a book in one of four conditions: an interactive book with a parent, an interactive book alone, a non-interactive version of the book with a parent, and a print book with a parent. In addition to looking at the role of interactivity generally, the study examined the use of interactive features that were not closely tied to the central story content, classified here as seductive details. Seductive details may be distracting and interfere with learning by disrupting the coherence of a story or distracting from the main narrative. Parents and children in all conditions were observed to examine the impact of interactive, non-interactive, and print book reading on parent-child dialogic reading behaviors.

Analyses revealed that use of interactive features was unrelated to children's story understanding, free recall, or sequencing abilities. Inreased use of seductive details in the interactive book was also unrelated to emergent literacy outcomes. Parental involvement was significantly related to children's story understanding, but not to children's free recall or sequencing abilities. Although the types and frequencies of parental dialogic reading behaviors differed by reading group, they were unrelated to children's individual performance on the story comprehension variables. Findings are discussed in terms of multiple ways to support emergent literacy and the value of parent involvement in print and interactive reading experiences.

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