May Challenge: Early Reading.

Early experiences have a lasting and far-reaching impact on health, development, and later life. During the early years, children’s experiences can either nurture health and resiliency, or make them vulnerable to poor health and development. If children are supported with positive environments and social experiences, their future will look bright. But if they experience chronic stressors such as poverty, maternal depression, abuse or neglect, their development and health may be disrupted or undermined.Reading to your baby is important for early literacy and language skills.Printed versus e-books: Is there a difference?With even the youngest toddlers regularly encountering digital technologies in their everyday lives, parents may wonder how e-book sharing compares with printed books. Although recent studies suggest that early learning is similar across the two media. Evidence remains strong that even when parents are engaged and toddlers are attentive, sharing printed books teaches early literacy and language skills and promotes relational bonding better than e-booksE-books and digital devices are not well designed for shared reading. Children tend to hold or gaze at tablets in the ‘head-down’ position typical of solo use, and parents tend to ‘shoulder surf’ rather than tucking their child under an arm or curling up, as with paper books.Children cannot run a finger under a line of text or bat at a picture without disrupting the page, and digital features such as page-turning, sound effects, and animation can be distracting. Studies have shown that screen reading prompts more parent-child interactions about process and mechanics (e.g., page turns or screen touching) and fewer story-relevant comments.Children cannot practice book handling skills, such as pincer grasp for page turning or book orientation.When sharing a printed book, children need to decode what they are hearing and seeing, and develop their neural networks while doing so. E-books do much of this work for them, such that their brains are significantly less engaged