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Connected: Digital Literacy for Gen Z

Dr. Julie Wood

Julie M. Wood, a former public school teacher and reading specialist, is a nationally recognized educational consultant with a special interest in digital learning tools. Join Julie in 2012 as she shares best practices in using educational technology and media in the classroom and at home.

Teaching young children to read: What do we know across platforms?

June 6, 2012

I hear you. I really do. It's hard to know the best way to raise a reader in today's digital world. E-books, i-books, apps, and tweets … Not to mention podcasts and really cranky birds!

What do we know for certain? What we've always known about kids and their reading development. Engaging with children during the experience, talking, laughing, and asking each other questions, is the still best way to go.

  • Interactive reading with young children, discussing the story or cool bits of information as you go along, still adds depth and richness to the reading experience.
  • Comprehension is still the ultimate goal. Children who can understand and interpret what they read have a great advantage-both in school and in navigating the world.
  • Vocabulary development is still key! Any book worth its salt will have fun and interesting words for children and families to enjoy, from flabbergasted to triceratops. The more practice children have in hearing, speaking, reading, and even singing new words, the deeper their knowledge (and perhaps love) of words will become.

In a nutshell, although we have all these cool ways of engaging with books today, what we've learned about children and learning to read over many decades still holds true.

But still. Digital media have changed our world. It's not just about paper, pencil, worksheets and a paperback copy of Good Night Moon anymore. And we can't help but be curious about these changes in our way of life.

Some of you wanted to know more about the e-books vs. i-books (interactive books) debate and apps in general. Check out the findings from these two fascinating studies:

Write back and tell us what you think about the two studies, e-books, i-books, reading print books with your children and/or students. How have digital media rocked your world as a reader and writer? As a parent? Or have they … ?


I find the study regarding print books vs. e-books interesting. As a reading specialist and a mom of a fourth and first grader, I concur with the idea of less bells and whistles if your goal is to assess understanding of content. I have read with my children on my Nook. They like the idea of turning the pages and having the ability to scoop out a word , but get distracted when there are too many options that are unrelated to the content of the story.

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"Wear the old coat and buy the new book." — Austin Phelps