Reach Out and Read Wisconsin’s first legislative visit of 2018

On Jan. 29, 2018, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s Next Door Pediatrics clinic hosted a legislative site visit with Senator LaTonya Johnson. During the visit, Senator Johnson read aloud from the books If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Pete the Cat: Snow Daze to a group of students from Next Door’s Head Start program. One of the highlights of the visit was watching the children’s enjoyment while Sen. Johnson read aloud.

Senator LaTonya Johnson reads aloud to a group of headstart children
Senator LaTonya Johnson reading aloud from If You Give A Mouse a Cookie
Children’s Health Alliance AmeriCorp Member Rebecca Lee and Next Door Pediatrics Medical Consultant Brilliant Nimmer, MD
From left: Clinic Manager Cara Schuhart, Senator LaTonya Johnson, Children’s Health Alliance AmeriCorp Member Rebecca Lee and Next Door Pediatrics Medical Consultant Brilliant Nimmer, MD

After the reading, Sen. Johnson participated in a tour of the medical clinic led by Dr. Brilliant Nimmer, the clinic’s Reach Out and Read (ROR) medical champion. Dr. Nimmer talked about the success of the program and its impact on the community. Since starting ROR in 2010, Next Door Pediatrics has given out almost 6,000 books to children ages 6 months to 5 years.

ROR Wisconsin is grateful for the opportunity to bring together legislative leaders and the medical community to promote, educate and engage around early literacy and children’s health.

Bob’s Discount Furniture gives generous donation to Reach Out and Read

On Feb. 1, 2018 Reach Out and Read (ROR) Wisconsin hosted an event in Madison, Wisconsin to highlight the ongoing support of Bob’s Discount Furniture to Reach Out and Read. During the event Cathy Poulin, Bob’s Discount Furniture public relations and outreach director, dressed up as Cat in the Hat. She read aloud from the book Oh, the Things You Can Do That Are Good For You by Tish Rabe to a group of preschoolers from the Waisman Center’s Early Childhood Program.  

Bob's Discount Furniture public relations director Cathy Poulin reads aloud at an event to a group of preschoolers as Cat in the Hat
Bob’s Discount Furniture public relations and outreach director, Cathy Poulin reads aloud to a group of preschoolers at the Waisman Early Childhood Program

Prior to the classroom reading, Ms. Poulin presented a $25,000 donation to ROR National Center, in Boston. ROR Wisconsin’s medical director and National Center board of director’s member, Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD accepted the check on behalf of ROR National Center. 

Bob's Discount Furniture generously donates $25,000 to Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin medical director and National Center board of directors member Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD accepts Bob’s Discount Furniture’s donation on behalf of ROR National Center

Bob’s Discount Furniture also donated 100 copies of Tish Rabe’s book, 100 fleece blankets and boxes of Cat in Hat-style hats to the American Family Children’s Hospital. In addition, Bob’s Discount Furniture donated $1,200 in gift cards to ROR Wisconsin clinics to be used to assist clinics in developing literacy-rich waiting rooms.

Thank you

Thank you Bob’s Discount Furniture for the generous donations to ROR National Center, American Family Children’s Hospital and ROR Wisconsin. We hope the Cat in the Hat comes back to visit Madison again!

Interview with author Julie Bowe

Today on the blog, we have our first ever interview with author Julie Bowe. Julie has written books for kids of all ages and currently lives in Wisconsin. Her latest book Big and Little Questions (according to Wren Jo Byrd) received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

headshot of children's author Julie Bowe for interview post

When your kids were young, did you read aloud to them?

Yes! From the time they were babies into their early teens. It was a great way to spend time together, plus it gave us a chance to talk about the stories we were reading and relate them to our own lives.

How did you incorporate reading with them into your daily routines?

I read books to them every evening, even after they were old enough to read on their own. We also loved audio books. My son, especially, loved listening to stories while he played, or when we were driving in the car. We visited the library often! We regularly attended story time and checked out stacks of books to bring home and read together.

What were some of your favorite books you and your kids read together?

We read tons of picture books as well as chapter books and novels. We all enjoyed getting into series books like The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. My daughter and I read many of the American Girl series books together and my son couldn’t get enough of Artemis Fowl, The Ranger’s Apprentice, and the Warriors series. I loved reading childhood “classics” to them too, like Charlotte’s Web, Harriet the Spy, and all the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We also totally enjoyed non-fiction books about animals, planets, and historical events.

Why did you decide to write children’s books?

A big part of my desire to write for kids came from reading to my own kids. I had also worked with children at camps and churches for a number of years before staying at home with my daughter and son. I have always been passionate about helping kids figure out who they are and how they want to make a difference in the world. I began freelance writing curriculum for children when my daughter was a toddler and that grew into an interest in writing books for children too. I love writing stories about kids who are in a transitional place in their lives (moving away, making new friends, etc.) and discovering how they make the transition in their own way.

What does the creative process look like for you? Where do you get inspiration for new books and characters?

I especially like to write in the morning when my brain is fresh and the coffee is hot! But when I’m working on a story, it’s always on my mind. Often ideas for a scene, or a snatch of dialogue will pop into my mind while I’m doing something else during the day. So I’m always jotting down ideas or portions of scenes on scraps of paper. Then I’ll take the scraps of ideas to my computer and type them into the story. I do most of my writing at my home computer, but I also like to write in public places so I can observe people and hear the rhythm of language. I think it helps me create characters who seem like real people when I do some of my writing with people, especially kids, around. The kids I see are often inspiring. I once met a young girl at a school visit who inspired the idea for my book, Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd). Another time I saw a girl at a mall who inspired the character named Randi, in my Friends for Keeps series. The main character in that series, Ida May, was very much inspired by my own daughter, who was in elementary school at the time I was writing the first book in the series, My Last Best Friend.

What do you hope children (and maybe their parents) take away from your books?

I hope they will see a little bit of themselves in my stories and learn something new about who they are and how they want to thrive in the world. All of my stories deal with the ups and downs of friendship, so I hope they inspire young readers to strive to be kind and supportive friends to one another.

What was it like to find out your book, Big & Little Questions, was named to Barnes and Noble’s Best Books of the Year 2017 list?

I was very happy to hear the news! It’s always affirming when my books are well received by major reviewers, but my favorite reviews come from young readers themselves when they write to tell me they love my books. Such reviews make the hard job of writing good stories really worthwhile.

What is one piece of advice you would give to children or young adults, who want to become authors or illustrators when they get older?

The best way to become a good writer is to be an avid reader! Read lots and lots of books. Write lots and lots of stories. Don’t worry about whether or not your stories are “good enough” to be published. Write because you love to write.

Any additional thoughts/comments on early literacy, the importance of books, or family engagement and reading?

I truly believe the greatest gift you, as a parent or caregiver, can give to a child is to read to them. Make reading a part of your child’s daily routine. Even just fifteen minutes a day will make a positive impact on a child’s life. And chances are it will make a positive impact on your life too.

For more information about Julie and her books please visit her website

How to hold a book drive

A book drive is a great way to collect new and high-quality, gently-used books for a Reach Out and Read program. It also is a wonderful way to bring a community or organization together for a purposeful goal. The books collected will end up in the hands of eager children who participate in Reach Out and Read at a local clinic.  

I am a UW-Madison student and founder of a student organization that works with Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. Below is information about our recent UW-Madison campus-wide book drive event – why we hosted it, who was involved and what we did to organize and promote the drive.

book drive signs

Posters made for the campus book drive

Background

As an eight-year volunteer for Reach Out and Read programs in the Milwaukee area, I was ecstatic to continue my early literacy promotion work as a UW-Madison student. In early 2017, I started a campus chapter for Reach Out and Read Wisconsin, called Badgers Reach Out and Read. It is made up of undergraduate and graduate students who work together to help the Reach Out and Read Wisconsin through volunteering, fundraising and helping to collect literacy materials.

November 3 through December 8, 2017, our organization hosted a campus-wide book drive on Reach Out and Read Wisconsin’s behalf. The UW-Madison campus gave us a large platform in hopes of many donations.

Badgers Reach Out and Read members

A Badgers Reach Out and Read book drive planning meeting

How Badgers Reach Out and Read organized and promoted the drive

Five building locations with attractive and visible signage

A key part of our book drive included finding campus drop-off locations for the donated books. We wanted to find donation spots that were well-known and in high-traffic areas. This way, not only would donors easily find a place to drop off their books, but perspective donors walking through a collection-site building would see the signage and be encouraged to participate.

The donation spots for our book drive included five campus buildings: Bascom Hall, Union South, the School of Business, Teacher Education Building and the Speech and Hearing Clinic (Goodnight Hall).

collection bins for reach out and read book drive

Social media image used to advertise the five drop-off locations

Permission to use these buildings as drop-off locations was obtained through email and in-person communications with respective building supervisors – all of whom were extremely helpful.

After talking with the building supervisors, it was discovered that not only did these buildings receive a lot of traffic from students, staff and the public but four of the buildings represented separate departments. These departments each had student organizations we could partner with for the book drive.

The UW-Madison campus spans about 936 acres. Geographically dispersed donation sites were strategically chosen as a way to bring the large campus together. Having involvement from multiple student organizations also allowed us to have more control over the collection of donated books, as no single student organization could be in all places at once.

For the buildings that did not already have donation bins for us to use, we purchased heavy-duty gray bins. We then hung signs about the book drive over the bins to increase their visibility.

Five Student Organizations

To create a book drive that engaged campus-wide participation, enlisting the help of other student organizations and crossing academic majors and interests accomplished our goal of reaching a wider audience.

The four student organizations we partnered with included the Aspiring Educators organization, Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), Phi Sigma Pi Service Fraternity and the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA). These organizations combined a mix of literacy-based and service-based organizations.

These organizations promoted the book drive to their members through email, at bi-weekly meetings and hosting service events. During these service events, members could go “thrifting” together for gently used books or sort through books that that had already been gathered.

Many posters, emails, social media posts, shares, tagging, etc.!

Badgers Reach Out and Read members had fun creating beautiful posters to advertise the book drive.

Getting the word out about the book drive was key to the drive being a success. For us, this included sending out general book drive information and a map of donation spots in bi-weekly emails to our 200 student-member database. We encouraged our partnering student organizations to do the same.

We were grateful that many of the building supervisors also included information about the drive in emails to their building staff. This was especially important as many staff have children of their own or have access to children’s books more often than some college students would. The word even got out to local community organizations, and we were grateful for the books donated by The Neighborhood House Community Center of Madison.

 

badgers reach out and read book annoucement

 

 Email messages promoting the books drive included attractive and informational attachments.  

 

 

uw madison locations for badgers reach out and read book drive

 

 

 A campus map clearly showed book donation locations

 

 

We used our Badgers Reach Out and Read Facebook page to announce and post updates about the book drive. Chapter officers had fun posing with books and donation bins, creating Boomerang videos showing donation bins filled with books and tagging and thanking members or groups who donated.  Our aim was to engage people, hold interest in the drive and get the word out to as many people as possible during the month-long donation period.

We also created a Facebook event through which we could invite others to participate. This was helpful as our officers and members could invite individuals from all different circles.

We made sure to post more advertisements before and during UW-Madison’s Thanksgiving break. For students, this was a prime time when they could go back home to search for books or receive book donations from their home communities (people learned of the event through the Facebook event). For Madison staff and the general public, this was also a time when the business of work and school wound down enough to search for books to donate. A lot of books were donated after Thanksgiving break, and we are thankful for these donations.

The book drive collected 6,155 new and high-quality, gently-used books 

On December 8, Badgers Reach Out and Read officers finished collecting and sorting the donated books. To sort the books we followed the Reach Out and Read Wisconsin book guidelines.

A total of 6,155 children’s books were then packed into boxes and transported to the Interstate Books4School, which had graciously offered to store our books for Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. These books included many wonderful gently-used children’s books, as well as new books.

Many donations were of infant-level reading materials, but we also received reading materials that spanned up to age 12. Books for older children can be displayed for reading use in clinic waiting rooms and given to older siblings.

We are so grateful to all of the wonderful donations we received. This book drive would not have been such a success without the continual support from Madison community, students and staff – and of course, Reach Out and Read Wisconsin!

We hope that our journey can help others hold a book drive in their community for a local  Reach Out and Read clinic. Here’s to more book drives in the future and to getting more books into the hands of more children in need!

badgers reach out and read officers

                  Badger Reach Out and Read officers Kelly (left) unload boxes of books collected through the campus book drive

Reading resources for parents of young children

Let’s face it, there is a lot of online information out there for families with young kids about reading. New stories, resource sheets, book lists and research are all a simple Google search away. It can be overwhelming, contradictory and at times confusing. We have created this list of resources that we rely on to help you find credible, trustworthy information about using books to build your baby’s brain.

Activities

Book lists

illustration of books with apple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guidelines and toolkits

Spanish and bilingual resources

Tips for reading aloud

parent and kid reading together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adult Literacy

reading book by window

 

 

 

 

 

How to read aloud to kids younger than age 5

One of the best ways to support your child’s growth and development is to read aloud with them. It is especially important to start early, as research shows 85 percent of the brain is developed by age 3. The benefits of reading aloud are well documented and programs like Reach Out and Read (ROR) are supported by a large evidence-base. However, it can be intimidating to read with a squirmy 2 year old or to read aloud to kids who cannot yet talk themselves. Below are some tips to keep in mind when reading with young children.

Newborn to 6 months

Mom reading to newborn

  • Babies want to hear your voice. They will enjoy when you talk, sing or read with them
  • Make eye contact with your baby when possible
  • Point to different pictures and name what you see. Talk about the color, sizes, quantity and shapes of things you see
  • Babies will enjoy looking at books with other baby’s faces in them
  • Babies will not focus on a story the way an older child can. Do not get discouraged if they squirm or are not looking directly at the book. They are still listening
  • Babies enjoy high contrast books (black and white)
  • Incorporate books into daily routines like nap time, bed time and play time

Ages 6 to 12 months

Child's doctors appointment with book

  • Babies may chew on board books, this is how they explore and it is okay
  • Continue to name objects and pictures for your baby
  • Babies may point or pat pictures on page to show interest
  • Babies may say a few words like “ma”, “ba” and “da”
  • Books with few words are best

Ages 12 to 24 months

Parents reading a book to toddler

  • Children can turn board book pages on their own, let them help
  • Continue to name objects and pictures
  • Don’t be afraid to use silly voices or make sounds related to the story you are reading. Kids love this

Ages 2 to 3

  • Toddlers love to hear the same story again and again
  • Toddlers are learning two to four new words per day
  • As you read, ask questions about the story and talk about the pictures you see
  • Toddlers can turn paper pages, often two or three at a time

Ages 3 to 4

  • Children will sit still for longer stories
  • Continue to ask questions about the story. If reading a familiar story ask “what happens next”
  • Point out numbers and letters
  • Ask child what book they want to read or take them to the library to pick out books

Ages 4 to 5 

Young girl reading with doctor

  • Children recognizes letters and numbers
  • Help build your child’s social emotional skills by relating the story to their own experiences
  • Point out numbers and things to count in the story
  • Ask the child to tell you the story
  • Kids may want to explore books on their own, which is great. You can continue to ask questions about the stories and offer to read with them, when they want.

One final piece of advice, even if you only share a few minutes per day looking at books or reading aloud, it is okay. It is still time you are spending together and you are helping them make connections and learn.

Project Manager update

At the end of each year, I think, “Wow, what a busy year.” This, our seventh year, has been no exception.

This year, we have been busy with:

  • Welcoming, and training Amber Bloom, MSW, who works directly with clinics on the eastern side of the state
  • Visiting 100 clinics throughout the state
  • Launching this blog, Books Build Better Brains
  • Keeping track of our medical director, Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, who gave more than 40 presentations this year, in Wisconsin and 11 other states
  • Organizing and leading our annual meeting, now with 100 attendees, one third of which are medical providers
  • Organizing three legislator/state leader visits to ROR clinics
  • Beginning the collection of our post-intervention parent literacy orientation surveys
  • Assisting 30 clinics in launching ROR programs
  • Submitting 10 grants/requests for funding (six were funded)
  • Attending and presenting at the ROR National Center Leadership Meeting
  • Providing more than 24,000 books in support to 61 clinics
  • Offering strategic planning consultation to two other state affiliates
  • Serving on ROR National Center’s book and network advisory committees

This year, we are especially proud of:

We are consistently grateful for:

  • The amazing clinic staff we work with who volunteer their time to provide parenting support and early literacy promotion faithful to the ROR model
  • Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, which provides us a home, infrastructure support and ongoing guidance
  • ROR National Center staff who cultivate national partners to further the work of early literacy promotion, provide training, resources and support to affiliate staff
  • Our funders, early literacy champions and individual donors who share our passion for children and literacy and without whose support none of the above would have been possible

Infographic showing Reach Out and Read Wisconsin's 2017 highlights part of project manager update

 

Donate to Reach Out and Read Wisconsin

Help Reach Out and Read Wisconsin finish 2017 strong

2017 is coming to an end and with that we want to take some time to reflect on the great accomplishments of the past year. Accomplishments which include hiring our third staff member, Amber Bloom, MSW, CAPSW, to provide assistance to clinics in the eastern part of the state. For our outstanding contributions to children in Wisconsin, we were awarded a Friends of Education award by State Superintendent Tony Evers. Additionally, we are the seventh largest Reach Out and Read affiliate in the country with more than 210 programs. Our other metrics keep growing as well:

  • We are serving 8,000 more kids than last year
  • 30 new clinics started a ROR program in 2017
  • 1,500 medical providers participate
  • More than 150,000 books distributed this year alone
  • Serving 1 in 5 children younger than age 6 in the state

quote from medical director Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD about accomplishments and helping Reach Out and Read Wisconsin

Our growth and expansion continues but we cannot do it without your support. ROR is not just valuable to the kids who receive a new book; it supports parents as their child’s first teacher and helps medical providers do their job more effectively.

Hear why founding ROR Wisconsin medical director, Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD thinks you should support our state office:

As an affiliate, we are doing well but your support can help us reach even more Wisconsin children in 2018.

Donate to Reach Out and Read Wisconsin

Book’em now or book’em later

I really don’t know what possessed me to become an Appleton police officer after graduating from UW-Madison with a degree in sociology. Little did I know when I retrieved the police officer job posting from the garbage can and applied for the position, my life would forever change. Thus began my 11 year odyssey in law enforcement. My first seven years were spent as a patrol officer. I then decided to specialize in juvenile law and sensitive crimes. The last three years of my career were spent in a local Division 1 high school where even a seasoned officer got an eye-full of serious teen problems. There were the regular thefts, fights and car accidents in the school parking lot; but, who would have guessed the amount of truancy, illegal drugs, teen pregnancy, suicide attempts and more that I frequently encountered.  

The power of reading first-hand

Mom reading to her two sons, librarian
Me reading to my boys, Nicholas and Steven

By the time I had one little boy and another on the way, I made the decision to leave law enforcement to stay home with my boys. My boys are in college now and I miss having their fat cheeks to kiss.

My favorite thing to do with my boys was to read to them. We all loved it. I would bring armfuls of picture books home from the library. One of my boys would sit for long periods of time focused on our books. The other was busy with toys as he listened, but he did listen. After everything I had seen as a police officer, I knew my boys were lucky. Some of you might be thinking, “Well, that’s what mom’s do. What’s the big deal?” 

Older brother reading to his younger brother, librarian
Nicholas, reading to his younger brother, Steven

To be perfectly honest, I thought I was just doing what comes naturally. I was wrong. Adults don’t just naturally “know” their relationships with their children, and shared activities like  talking, singing, reading, writing (scribbling qualifies) and playing are so critical to everything in life that comes after. Parents learn how to do this, by observation and learning at some point in their own life. But not all parents have had this behavior modeled for them. It would be great if every child in the world grew up in this type of environment. It would be ideal if parents themselves had these secure, healthy experiences during childhood so they were confident in their abilities to read aloud and felt empowered as their child’s first teacher.

When I look back, everything in my life led me to become a children’s librarian. Many people chuckle, scratch their head and ask, “Why would you do that?” or “That’s kind of a radical career change, isn’t it?” I smile and occasionally tell people that it makes perfect sense to me. I am now in the business of crime prevention. I became a librarian for many reasons, but that is one of the outcomes of my work now.

I have always loved young people and wanted to make a difference in their lives. I want to help them stay on the path to happy, healthy and productive lives. Of course, the factors that lead people down different life paths are varied and complicated. I was never under the illusion that I would save the world after I earned my master’s degree in Library and Information Science, but I hope I can contribute and make a difference.

The evidence is clear. Reading to children helps them develop print awareness, vocabulary and letter identification as well as letter sound recognitions. It also helps children learn to tell stories from beginning to end. These skills are all necessary before reading can begin. Unfortunately, the achievement gap starts early. Love of reading must be learned at an early age and failure to instill a love of reading can impair long-term interest in learning. Over half of all parents don’t read to their children every night. The percentage gets higher for families living in poverty.

Reading difficulty contributes to school failure, truancy, school dropout, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse and teenage pregnancy. Here are some staggering figures:  

  • Seventy percent of all incarcerated adults cannot read at a 4th grade level
  • Eighty-five percent of children in the juvenile court system are functioning at a low literacy level
  • The cost of incarceration in the United States is estimated to be between 80 billion and one trillion dollars each year

However, every $1.00 we invest in quality early childhood programs, society gets back $4 – $9. Even if you look at the situation from a purely economic standpoint, investment in quality early learning programs makes sense. Through programs like Reach Out and Read (ROR) we can provide children in our communities with an evidence-based and scalable program that helps start children off on the right track in life.

The wonderful thing about ROR is that it reaches so many families with small children. Who do you think is best equipped to influence parents’ child rearing practices….a librarian, a teacher or a physician? I think we all know the answer to that. When doctors talk, we listen. Here in the Fox Cities, the United Way, public libraries and area health systems are all pulling together to expand ROR throughout the region. Our goal is to have all potential well-child visit sites in the Fox Cities implementing ROR by the end of 2018. It’s spreading fast. I think we’ll reach our goal.

Please give all children a fair chance in life and support quality early childhood education programs like Reach Out and Read.

Papers, pixels and pediatrics

This article was originally published by the Cap Times on Nov. 6, 2017

Recently, a colleague asked me about whether there was a difference between reading a book on a screen versus a paper page. People do worry about all sorts of concerns — light from screens, fine motor skill development, reading comprehension, and more. Many of these stem from an underlying technophobia — or technophilia, as it may be. What does the research tell us?

There are published studies which formally examine the difference, and the results seem to be all over the place. Some suffer from small sample sizes, or look only at very specific domains — comprehension, or interactional parent/child “warmth”, or mastery of a specific skill. There’s also a big difference looking at toddlers versus preschoolers versus elementary schoolchildren; they are at very different places in the world of reading. Additionally, many are adult studies, and may not apply to children. The reality is that, based on the available research, we just don’t yet know if there are significant meaningful differences.

I’m asked this question frequently when I give talks about early literacy, and I try to give at least some amount of guidance. My answer is as follows: To a certain extent, I think that text is text, whether it’s being viewed as ink on the dried wood pulp that we call pages or glowing pixels on a screen. There are a few key caveats, though:

First, the research is mixed on whether use of backlit screens can impact sleep. Melatonin is a hormone involved in initiation of sleep, and it is affected by light exposure, particularly certain wavelengths. While television has been in our collective lives for decades, those screens are a few feet away, rather than the several inches of most portable devices. However, while studies of close-in light use may affect melatonin, does typical real-world use do so? It’s hard to know as of yet. Until there’s better clarity on this, avoiding glowing screens at least an hour before bedtime is reasonable.

Second, most books for young children involve skillfully created images. Ensuring a screen is high-quality enough to allow the beauty of the images to be displayed is important and shouldn’t be compromised. Illustrations are as much part of the story as the text.

Third, there is a danger of a slippery slope when it comes to electronic devices — even young children often know devices can not only provide a Caldecott-award-winning picture book, but also offer up games. It’s hard for parents to resist a young child’s demands for the attention-grabbing nature of games — after all, marketing cereals to children is predicated on them throwing tantrums in the supermarket for a particular kind — with a high risk of displacing the intention to share books together…night after night.

Finally, there’s the danger of thinking the enhancements offered by e-books are necessarily an improvement over physical books. A parent might assume having a cow moo when tapped on a screen is inherently better than the silent paper equivalent. But is it? If that moo is not essential to the narrative or structure of the book, it may simply be a distractor. Children who become attuned to the “tap-and-make-something-happen” dynamic may ignore much of what is on displayed pages in favor of tapping everything on the screen in an attempt to “make it go”.

Ultimately, it all comes down to how the book is used. Assuming due care is exercised with the above points, for young children the most important factor is the presence of a caring, nurturing, responsive adult who understands how to interactively explore a book with a young child. This may be a skill unconsciously picked up by the adult through environmental role models, but for some they may require modeling, coaching, and the encouragement to do so. Rather than become lost in the electronic versus paper book wars, we would do well to ensure that each and every child has an adult in their lives who knows how to read well with them and can do so routinely.

Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD is the medical director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin. He shares research regarding kids reading physical books and on electronic device.
Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD is the medical director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin