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Parents & Kids Still Prefer to Co-Read Paper Books, not eBooks

A new report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center graced my inbox this morning, and it brings with it another look into hwo children and their parents use ebooks and ereaders.

I last covered a report from this research organization in May, when they released one of their quick reports. That older report showed that the enhancements in enhanced ebooks  did not add to the kids' ability to learn and retain the story; instead it distracted them from reading.

Today’s report, found via DBW, takes a look at how parents perceive the value of co-reading with the iPad, why they may or may not do so, and other related topics.

The survey is based on a group of 462 iPad owners, with about 27% (127) reporting that they didn’t use their iPad to read with their children. These aren’t the ebook people I was looking for, but their reasons for excluding themselves from the group are worth noting nonetheless.

The single most common reason for not co-reading with the iPad was the obvious one; 60% of these 127 parents have a preference for paper, while a third found that it was awkward to do so ad nearly as many were concerned about adding to the kids screen time (27%) or that the kid might want to co-opt the iPad away from the parent (30%).

That last concern might be a valid one. One of the later questions in the survey showed that parents who used the iPad to co-read reported a higher likelyhood that the child also used the iPad to watch videos, play games, crate music, and more.

The remaining 335 parents surveyed for this study did use the iPad to co-read with their child. Some of the answers they provided, like the shared belief that animations, in-ebook games, and embedded videos distracted from the reading experience were obvious, but others offer an insight into how people read.

For example, 60% of parents used narration features at least some of the time while reading to their kids, and a similar percentage of kids listened to the narration while reading alone.  Another 20% of parents always use the audio narration. What’s more, around 75% of parents thought that the narration was useful for helping kids learn, a number which is actually slightly smaller than the ones using the feature.

But the most interesting detail about this study on co-reading is that the majority those who did share the iPad still preferred to co-read using paper books. Over 70% of parents and just over half of the kids preferred paper,  with about 40% of kids and 25% of parents reporting no preference for one format over the other.

This report also showed that the Rowling effect, as I’ve taken to calling it, is quite common. This particular situation is the reason JK Rowling gave for her lessened objections to Harry Potter ebooks. In the summer of 2010 she went on a family trip for the first time with an ereader instead of a stack of books and was amazed at how much it simplified the logistics.

Parents who participated in this study coudl well understand her feeling; they showed a market preference for co-reading ebooks while on trips.


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