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Why We’re Old Fashioned with Our Books


Our studious AIC students love reading!

It’s been a debate ever since electronic books first gained popularity—which is better for reading, print books or digital devices? When you’re itching to read a new book, which format do you personally turn to first?


E-books are more portable, sure. On the other hand, there’s something to be said about the widely-loved smell of old books, or the tangibility of flipping through pages as you read. However, there are real reasons why physical books are irreplaceable, especially for primary school education. These principles are what guide our firm beliefs here at Turning Pages: paper books are the way to go for students under ten years of age.


The case for print books


Our philosophy is backed by prior research, which has shown that both young and middle school-age children comprehend the stories they read less if the books are in a digital format, as opposed to paper. Because digital elements like sound or animation can be distracting to children [1], it’s also easier for adults to guide their kids on what’s happening in the book if it’s presented in a traditional paper format.


“Increasing numbers of developmental researchers observe that when parents read stories on e-books with their children, their interactions frequently center on the more mechanical and more gamelike aspects of e-books, rather than the content and the words and ideas in the stories,”

Maryanne Wolf writes in her book Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World [2].

“Most parents are simply better at fostering language and helping to clarify concepts when they read physical books to their preschool children.”

This kind of adult guidance is very important, as it can impact how kids feel about reading as an activity in the longer term. Conversations led by an adult, as well as the physical warmth and enthusiasm they share with kids, are crucial in shaping the way kids learn. However, because adults and children interact less over e-books than paper books [3], kids may lose out on these valuable verbal and nonverbal engagements and lose interest in reading. In contrast, if our kids associate reading with nurturing and care from an early age, these feelings can help set the stage for a long-lasting love of reading as they grow up, too.


How Turning Pages implements it


Take a peek inside our classrooms filled with print books!

Given this wealth of research, we’re dedicated to cultivating the most welcoming and nurturing space for our young readers here at Turning Pages.


Unlike other organizations that bring children story books downloaded on tablets, Turning Pages prides itself on cultivating hardcover book libraries as we return to in-person learning in the wake of the pandemic. To that effect, we’ve worked with all our partner schools to invest inprint books for their students.


Moreover, for our teaching programme, we pair the books read aloud in class with custom interactive activities and worksheets based on their contents. These books are also loaned to students to enjoy in their free time.


Our highly trained facilitators work closely with students in participating schools to ensure that the important adult-led conversations—both about the storylines and about the larger life lessons they teach—happen. We know that this kind of precious engagement is something digital devices can’t always provide (and might even hinder access to!).


How do we find common ground with those who are different from us? How do we manage our emotions as we grow up?


Turning Pages seeks to tackle the big questions in every session, and uncover the truths and joys of our world in every page we turn together. We want to help every child become a critical thinker and confident communicator, and we believe that giving each child the gift of a paper bound book is the first step in building a lifelong passion for reading.



We believe physical books significantly enhance the learning process.

Some of our favorite books!



References and Related Reading


Here are some of the sources that informed our thoughts on this issue. We encourage you to check them out if you’re interested in learning more!


  1. “A Comparison of Children’s Reading on Paper Versus Screen: A Meta-Analysis” by May Irene Furenes, Natalia Kucirkova, and Adriana G. Bus.

  2. Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World by Maryanne Wolf.

  3. “Differences in Parent-Toddler Interactions With Electronic Versus Print Books” by Tiffany G. Munzer, MD, Alison L. Miller, PhD, Heidi M. Weeks, PhD, Niko Kaciroti, PhD, and Jenny Radesky, MD.



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