Traditional Print Books or E-books?

Traditional Print Books or E-books?

For a very long time, parents and educators have concurred on a detail in the ongoing debate between the efficacy of reading traditional printed books and the convenience of e-books; reading is an indispensable gift to children.

From very early on in life reading consistently helps encourage language development, stimulates their imagination, and discover new things about the world and their environment.

However, does it matter if parents choose to read traditional printed books or e-books to their children? What are the differences between traditional printed books over e-books? And as we’re moving more towards the future of more electronic-based learning, is it compromising or improving our children’s education?


Today, we are going to weigh both the advantages and disadvantages in comparison of both mediums of reading.


Advantages of traditional printed books:

· Children are less likely to be distracted

· Better information retention

· Strengthen bond between parents and child

· Hands-on experience

· Reduces eye strain

Firstly, children are less likely to be distracted when it comes to reading printed books. The music, animation and games can be too distracting for children in e-books and in the end, this digresses them from the story itself. With a printed book, there’s no chance of kids getting distracted by the bells and whistles of e-book.

Besides that, readers who engaged in printed books assimilate and recall the plot of the printed books more compared to e-books, according to a study presented in Italy in 2014. Readers of printed books also did better than their counterparts in other areas such as empathy, immersion in the book and understanding of the narrative.

Other than that, reading printed books strengthens the bond between parent and child. Parents and children were shown to have more engagement when storytelling from a printed book format. Toddlers were also encouraged to make more statements with printed books.

When it came to e-books, parents and children were found to make limiting commentary which were mostly focused more towards technology, such as where to push a button or, swiping to get to the next page and turning the volume higher or lower.

Besides that, according to a study as reported by The Guardian, research leader Anne Mangen found that stories on e-books are less remembered than on printed books. She theorized it was missing of the hands-on experience.

“When you read on paper, you can sense with your fingers a pile of pages on the left growing, and shrinking on the right. You have a tactile sense of progress, in addition to the visual.” Mangen feels that the brain needs the physical sense of where things fall in the story to remember the events as they take place.

Lastly, reading printed books have an edge over using e-books which is the lessening of eye strain on children. E-books emit low-light screens artificial light, this has been shown to interfere with a child’s ability to sleep and puts more strain on their eyes too. Reading printed books under a good lighting condition relaxes your child’s eyes over time and doesn’t affect their sleep cycle.


Disadvantages of traditional printed books:

· Take up space: Books, according to Marie Kondo is clutter (Oh no!) and they take up space. The books we purchase from time to time will start piling up and will need to start reorganizing your space to prevent a clutter from happening.

· Money: Purchasing a book each time will always cost money, as opposed to downloading hundreds of e-books for free.

· Light Conditions: When you’re reading a printed book, you’re going to need good lighting to read. This poses as a problem especially if you love reading at night as having good lighting is important in preventing future eyesight problems.

· Longevity: Because paper is degradable, it might not last very long if you’re planning to keep it for a long time, or, if you’re considering on passing it down to your grandchildren.


Benefits of E-books:

· It has more playful and interactive elements

· It’s more rewarding for children

· It’s adaptable to children’s unique learning styles

· Convenient for children

· Environmentally-friendly option

Firstly, interactive and playful features heighten the experience of reading, leading it into a more fun and memorable experience. Children also have the ability to bookmark pages, find words in a quick search, zoom in on unfamiliar words and enter a different link to further solidify words and make connections.

Next, it’s a rewarding experience for children. The built in features of these reading devices such as highlighting, helps children define the words that they’re struggling with and in turn, helps them feel encouraged and confident which make reading a gratifying experience for them.

Other than that, it’s easily adaptable to a child’s unique way of learning. Each child has their own learning style and no two are the same. It seems that reading devices allow children to read and develop their skills at their own pace without feeling the need to rush to the level of their peers. E-books are found to be more convenient for children as well.

Instead of carrying multiple books at the same time, an e-reading device can store thousands of e-books in a single device. Children, especially students will benefit most from this as they don’t need to carry the heavy weight of books to school as it can be stored in an e-book that is easily accessible.

Lastly, this is an environmentally-friendly option and is a great way for kids to practice acts of sustainability for the environment. Parents can help children to understand that a device such as an e-book can help save many trees from being chopped down and how that eliminates our carbon footprint in processes such as transporting the materials to shipping the books.

Disadvantages of E-books:

· Cost: In order to get e-books, one must get an e-reading device such as Kindle or a Nook and that involves a start-up cost.

· Requires charging: Unlike books, an e-reading devices runs out of battery depending on how heavy our usage is and charging it requires time.

· Difficulty in lending: It’s difficult to lend books to our friends and family on our e-reading devices. Different device have distinct specifications and figuring it out can take time.

· Different feel: While e-books have the capacity to carry hundreds of books and is incredibly lightweight, it’s slim and metallic feel can never substitute the feeling of having a book in hand.


Both mediums have clear attributes that serves the different function in children’s reading needs and preferences. While some children prefer the nostalgia of being able to flip through pages, smelling the scent of a book, or holding a book itself, others might enjoy a more lightweight and portable option such as a reading device. Either way, both choices are equally valid options as at the end of the day, both achieve the same objectives.


Written by Eve Bandusena, Editorial Assistant

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