People who enjoy reading develop not just the skill but the habit of reading. From the moment a child is born parents are encouraged to read to them to successfully set the stage for early learning and skill development that may lead to better language skills and an increased interest in reading once they begin school. From a young age, we are not only taught to read but required to read certain texts in school that may or may not spark an interest. As textbooks become digital and ebooks become the norm in classrooms, will this positively or negatively affect students’ love of reading?
According to analyses of reading behavior and achievement data from both the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Program for International Student Assessment, students who report reading for pleasure or that reading is one of their favorite pastimes have higher general reading achievement. Yet the number of these students has fallen in the past decade.
It seems as though there’s a general trend that students are only reading if they have to. Why is this? Some research suggests it’s because there’s been an emphasis on digital reading, which may be more challenging for comprehension and focus for long-form and complex texts, and therefore less enjoyable. It’s also possible that students are more likely to get distracted when reading digitally, which makes it hard to follow longer-form content and think critically.
Since digital learning and ebooks are here to stay in our classrooms, whether in-person or remote, how can educators help support and nurture a love of reading?
The excerpt below; taken from “How to Nurture Lifelong Readers in a Digital Age” (EducationWeek) offers some recommendations:
To build better reading habits in new platforms, experts recommended educators focus on:
- Close other applications while reading, such as email or other websites, and encourage students to read through a text completely before going back to follow hyperlinks. Unlike print footnotes, it can be easier to get sucked into long detours from online links. Most long digital text formats include annotation and collaboration tools, which can help students engage more deeply with the work—if the tools are of high quality and students learn to use them regularly. Particularly in digital text, taking breaks can reduce eyestrain and improve focus. But students also should be encouraged to build up the time they read challenging text.
- Close other applications while reading, such as email or other websites, and encourage students to read through a text completely before going back to follow hyperlinks. Unlike print footnotes, it can be easier to get sucked into long detours from online links.
- Most long digital text formats include annotation and collaboration tools, which can help students engage more deeply with the work—if the tools are of high quality and students learn to use them regularly.
- Particularly in digital text, taking breaks can reduce eyestrain and improve focus. But students also should be encouraged to build up the time they read challenging text.
Helping students build these skills can pay off in building better reading habits in and out of school. Melissa Jacobs, the director of library services for the New York City public schools, the nation’s largest school library system, said one silver lining of the pandemic is that it has forced schools and students alike to develop more comfort in switching among print, digital, and audiobooks. In the last two years, she said the overall time students have spent on library titles increased with the addition of online and audio versions expanded in response to remote learning needs.
While many teachers and parents are concerned that ditching textbooks for ebooks is setting students up for too much screen time that will negatively affect their behavior, language, health, lifestyle, and overall love of reading, the reality is that we already live in a digital world and whether in the classroom or at home, screens are part of students’ learning environment now.
The key is to provide opportunities for students to select the format that works best for their learning, whether print, digital or audio-based. If they are consuming content in a format that fits their learning style it may very well increase their passion for reading.
EdTech Solutions leverages education technology to improve learning by making it easy and simple for schools and students to manage and access individualized digital content on any device. EdTech’s cutting-edge approach to schoolwide ebook implementation and our innovative online platform and tools give school administrators and teachers the controls they need while providing students and parents with access to all their content on one easy-to-use platform with a single login, in most cases.
When you work with us, we create a personalized bookstore for your school where students can access and purchase their ebooks and textbooks on Shelfit.com. We also help publishers make their content available digitally to students on our robust multi-publisher ebook reader platform. We strongly believe that knowledge and good education should be available to all, and we are committed to developing and providing the online learning tools and modern services that make it possible.