Children’s story comprehension and enjoyment from eBooks with story-relevant versus irrelevant features

Children’s story comprehension and enjoyment from eBooks with story-relevant versus irrelevant features

First Author: Claire Seunghee Son -- University of Utah
Additional authors/chairs: 
Kirsten R. Butcher; Lauren Aimonette Liang
Keywords: electronic books, Book Reading, early childhood (age 4 - 6), Comprehension, Technology
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose. Recent developments in digitized storybooks enable to provide animated illustrations and embedded hotspots. These extra interactive features seem to bring the story to life and provide story details but it is not clear whether they could be engaging or distracting, and affect children’s comprehension and enjoyment. Based on the premise that the impact of interactive features could depend on the way they provide information related to the story, we attempted to investigate experimentally the extent to which children’s comprehension and enjoyment differs for eBooks with differential interactive features: eBooks with story-relevant, story-irrelevant, and no interactive features.

Method. Participants included 91 pre-K children in 9 Head Start sites. Two commercial, interactive eBooks were selected: "Cinderella" and “Where Do Balloons Go?” They were adapted into three versions, by recording screenplay of the story read-aloud with (1) story-relevant features, (2) story-irrelevant features, and (3) no interactive features. Children were randomly assigned to read a version. Children’s story comprehension, enjoyment, and initial vocabulary skills were assessed.

Results. ANCOVA tested the impact of conditions after controlling for child gender, dual language status, and initial vocabulary. There was a significant condition effect in Cinderella comprehension, F(2, 84)=4.203, p=.018 and Balloons, F(2, 79)=3.727, p=.029. Reading Cinderella with irrelevant features led to lower comprehension scores than no interaction version, t=-2.85, p=.01. Reading Balloons with relevant features led to higher comprehension scores than the irrelevant version, t=-.27, p=.01. For story enjoyment, there were no condition effects for both eBooks.

Conclusion. Results suggest the story-relevant interactive features may provide more information while story-irrelevance may distract readers. Story-relevance of interactive features did not affect story enjoyment.