Michel Kripalani is president of Oceanhouse Media, Inc., creators of more than 300 apps, including the award-winning Dr Seuss, The Berenstain Bears, Little Critter, Smithsonian and Byron Barton app series.
In this guest post, he writes about the importance of 'Raising Readers: How the digital medium can help to inspire your child to read'.
'The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you'll go.'
— Dr Seuss, I Can Read with My Eyes Shut
Dr Seuss was a pioneer in early literacy, recognising that making reading fun can increase comprehension and engage the youngest of children. With today’s digital technology, how can parents ensure that their children are inspired to read?
As an app publisher and parent myself, I have seen first hand the benefits of digital reading, both for storytelling and education. I’ve watched as children have a sense of control and independence as they navigate their way through a great story on device. As digital natives, they enjoy the touch screen technology and reading at their own pace.
Wondering what you can do to encourage your child to read? Follow these tips to help instill a love of reading in your child in the digital age:
• Read together daily. Grab your favourite digital device and make reading an important part of each day. Interact with your child while reading, asking questions and encouraging them to think about what they’re reading. Find a comfortable place with no interruptions and relax with a great story. It’s a wonderful way to bond with your child.
• Limit interactivity. Be cautious of the amount of 'bells and whistles' in a digital book app. Keeping interactivity to a minimum is important, in particular for early readers, in order to increase reading comprehension and limit distractions. It’s best to select book apps with limited or no gaming features.
• Features for beginning readers. Look for a user-friendly interface with features that help early readers learn new words and build on their reading skills. For instance, different reading modes (reading the story themselves or having it read to them), picture/word association, word highlighting and the ability to touch an individual word and hear it pronounced benefit beginning readers. In particular, a child that is struggling can listen to a word they don’t recognise, adding to their vocabulary and understanding of the story.
• Enjoy the classics. There is no shortage of digital book apps on the market today. The quality, however, is not always consistent. While original stories may be entertaining, many have not be edited for their narrative and appropriateness for kids. On the other hand, classic children’s literature enhanced for the digital medium offers a time-tested quality and content that has helped generations of children learn to read.
• Read for fun. Whether it’s finding a tongue twister by Dr Seuss (remember Fox in Socks?) or discovering a book app on a popular interest or hobby, look for topics that interest your child, especially for reluctant readers. Encourage your child to read out loud and take advantage of digital book apps that allow you to record your own narration. Play the track back or have your child send their recording to family and friends.
• Be a good role model. Have your child see you reading on a regular basis. Load your device with books, newspapers, magazines — whatever you enjoy reading — and have it easily accessible around your home, reinforcing to your child that reading is part of your daily schedule.
• Build a digital library. Imagine the fun you’ll have choosing which book apps to load on to your device. Involve your child in the selection process. Whether it’s rhyming stories, picture books or the stories you grew up with as a child, the time you spend searching for the right books to add to your digital library can be just as much fun as reading them together.
Reading with your child creates lasting memories. Plant the seeds of inspiration early and watch as they cultivate an interest in reading that will hopefully last a lifetime.