A new report from the US Census Bureau indicates that tablet use among families with children has increased significantly in recent years, with 80% of such families reporting tablet ownership, including 60% of families with caregivers who have not completed a high school education. The share jumps to 75% in households with children only under the age of 5. This sudden rise in tablet use could lead to increased demand for digital children’s books, an increasingly popular option for families who want to encourage a love of reading in their children.
Benefits of Digital Children’s Books
Digital children’s books have many benefits that can help children develop a love of reading. For one, digital books can provide greater variety and diversity of titles. There are many online resources that offer free digital books, such as BookSpring, Book Dash, Storyweaver, and Unite for Literacy, which provide access to tens of thousands of books for children at no cost to families. Digital books can be particularly helpful for families who may not have access to physical books due to financial constraints or geographical limitations, such as limited physical space in the home or no access to a local library. Digital books can also be more interactive than physical books, with features such as zooming in and out on pictures, words, and letters and audio narration that can help children engage with the story in new ways. Additionally, digital books with read-aloud functionality can help children and their language learning parents improve their reading skills by following along with the text as it is read aloud. One benefits of reading digital books on tablets is that they are larger than phone screens, and may be held in the lap like a print book, and thus are more similar to the print reading experience.
Rise in Demand for Digital Children’s Books
With the increasing prevalence of tablets in households, there is likely to be a rise in demand for digital children’s books. Digital books can be a helpful tool for caregivers who may not feel comfortable reading with their children in a language that is not their own, as the audio narration can assist in reading the text aloud in a new language. Additionally, the convenience of digital books can make them an attractive option for busy families. With digital books, families can access a wide variety of books without needing to leave their home or wait for physical books to be delivered. Because of this, BookSpring is planning to increase the number of digital books available on its website and through its outreach programs, including Books Beginning at Birth.
Supporting Parents to Use Digital Children’s Books
While digital children’s books can offer many benefits, it is important to note that not all families may not feel comfortable to use them. In addition to providing free access to digital books, organizations like BookSpring also offer resources and support for caregivers who may need assistance in helping their children develop strong reading skills. This can include video and written tips for reading aloud effectively, as well as guidance on selecting books that are appropriate for a child’s age and reading level. Digital children’s books are a promising way to use tablets, especially when used by caregivers to read aloud together with their children. However, unsupervised and excessive screen time can have a negative impact on children’s development and physical health. To ensure safe and healthy tablet use, it is important to use the device mainly to engage with a child and encourage physical activity that extends the reading activities between sessions. With variety and staying engaged in stories together, tablets can be a valuable tool for family learning and exploration in children’s lives.
The rise in tablet use among families with children points to a potential increase in demand for digital children’s books. While traditionally published digital books may not be accessible to all families, resources like BookSpring offer free access to thousands of books for children. Digital books can offer many benefits, including multilingual read-aloud functionality, which can help children develop a love of reading and improve their reading skills. By providing access to free digital books and supporting caregivers in their efforts to help children develop strong reading skills, organizations like BookSpring are playing an important role in promoting literacy and education for children.
Source: Four Out of Five Households With Children Owned Tablets, by Daniela Mejía, April 13, 2023, published by the US Census America Counts https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2023/04/tablets-more-common-in-households-with-children.html