Benefits of Print Reading over Screen Reading in Early Literacy

Benefits of Print Reading over Screen Reading in Early Literacy

The digital revolution has undoubtedly transformed our lives, and reading is no exception. E-readers, tablets, and smartphones offer a convenient and accessible way to access a vast library of books. However, when it comes to early literacy development, the power of print reading remains unmatched. Understanding the benefits of engaging with physical books and resources in contrast to screen reading is crucial for nurturing young minds and cultivating a love for reading from an early age. 

This blog explores the advantages of print reading over screen reading in early literacy, delving into the cognitive, physical, and emotional benefits it offers to children. By examining the impact of both mediums on literacy development and providing strategies for effectively balancing print and screen reading, we aim to highlight the invaluable role of print materials in shaping young readers. 

Print Reading Vs Screen Reading 

  • Print reading: The traditional method of reading text printed on paper in a book, magazine, or other physical format. 

  • Screen reading: Consuming text displayed on a digital screen, such as a tablet, computer, or smartphone. 

Both methods allow access to information, but the way we interact with and process the information differs significantly. 

The Importance of Early Literacy Development 

Early literacy development sets the foundation for a child's lifelong learning journey. It enhances language skills, cognitive abilities, and fosters a love for reading. Introducing children to reading at a young age opens doors to imagination, creativity, and critical thinking. 

The Impact on Early Literacy: Print vs. Screen 

1-Brain Development and Focus:

The human brain is wired to learn through physical interaction. Research by Anne Mangen, a professor of literacy education at the University of Stavanger, suggests that holding a physical book provides sensory cues and spatial awareness that screens lack. Turning pages, feeling the weight of the book, and seeing the physical progress of reading all contribute to a deeper engagement with the text. 

On the other hand, screens are designed for multi-tasking. The constant notifications, flashing lights, and hyperlinks can easily distract young readers, hindering their ability to focus and concentrate on the story. 

2.Memory and Comprehension:

Studies indicate that print reading fosters stronger memory retention compared to screen reading. Research by Erin Westby of the University of Texas at Austin suggests that the physical act of navigating a book, along with the absence of distractions, allows for better information processing and memory encoding. 

Screen reading, with its fast-paced, scrolling nature, can lead to skimming and superficial comprehension. Children may struggle to remember key details or the overall narrative arc of the story. 

3.Language Development and Vocabulary Growth:

Print books typically offer richer and more complex language compared to many digital texts. Exposure to a wider vocabulary through print reading can significantly enhance a child's language development. 

While some digital apps and ebooks may incorporate vocabulary tools, they often fall short of the diverse and nuanced language found in print literature. 

4.Emotional Connection and Imagination:

Print books and resources have the power to transport young readers to fantastical worlds and foster a deeper emotional connection with the story. The physical experience of turning pages builds anticipation and allows children to create their own mental images of characters and settings. 

Screen reading, with its pre-rendered visuals and interactive elements, can limit a child's imagination and emotional engagement with the story. 

5.Social Interaction and Bonding:

Sharing a physical book allows for a unique bonding experience between parent and child. Reading aloud becomes a collaborative activity, fostering communication skills and a love for reading together. 

Digital formats, while sometimes interactive, often lack the intimate connection and social interaction that comes with sharing a physical book. 

Striking a Balance: Print and Screens Can Coexist 

While research supports the benefits of print reading, it doesn't diminish the value of technology. A balanced approach that leverages both print and screen reading can be most effective. Here are some tips for parents and educators: 

  • Prioritize print materials in early childhood: Make print reading the primary method of literacy exposure in the early years. 
  • Choose high-quality digital resources: Opt for eBooks and apps that prioritize storytelling, focus on high-quality visuals, and minimize distractions. 
  • Set screen time limits: Establish clear screen time limitations for young children to ensure adequate time for print reading activities. 
  • Interactive print reading experiences: Combine the strengths of both worlds by using interactive features in printed books like pop-ups, sound effects, or augmented 


By recognizing the benefits of print reading in early literacy education, we can create a balanced approach that harnesses the unique advantages of both print and digital reading experiences. Embracing print reading not only cultivates a love for reading but also supports essential skills that children need to thrive in the digital age.  

While digital technology continues to play a significant role in today's educational landscape, the unique benefits of print reading in early literacy cannot be overlooked. From enhancing cognitive skills to fostering emotional connections and promoting a love for reading, physical books offer a multitude of advantages for young children. By embracing the value of print reading and incorporating it thoughtfully into early literacy education, we can empower the next generation of readers to thrive in a digital age while cherishing the timeless magic of books. 


1.Is screen reading detrimental to a child's literacy development?

While screen reading can have its benefits, excessive screen time at a young age has been associated with potential negative impacts on attention span and comprehension. It is important to balance screen reading with print reading to support holistic literacy development. 

2. How can parents encourage print reading in a digital age? 

Parents can foster a love for print reading by creating a home environment filled with diverse and engaging physical books and game based learning, setting aside dedicated time for shared reading, and modeling positive reading habits themselves. 

3. Are there specific strategies for incorporating print and screen reading in early literacy education?

Educators can utilize a blended approach by integrating print and digital resources in a purposeful manner, promoting critical thinking skills when engaging with digital content, and providing opportunities for hands-on exploration of physical books. 

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