Language abilities in the early years have a long-lasting influence on children’s learning in school and later life. However, a considerable number of children enter school with weak language skills. Because e-books are increasingly considered an effective tool to narrow the gap, a meta-analysis published in the Educational Research Review investigated the effects of e-books on language support in early childhood education and care (ECEC).
The meta-analysis evaluated the effectiveness of e-book reading in ECEC on children’s language development in comparison to two conditions: regular childcare without e-books, and print book reading in classrooms. After reviewing the studies published between 2000 and 2018 in English or German, the review identified 17 studies that met the inclusion criteria, such as involving at least 10 children, consisting of typically-developing and at-risk children (excluding children with developmental disorders), and using the society-spoken language (excluding a foreign language).
Results indicated that e-book reading in ECEC classrooms could foster the language development of young children. As for the comparison of different experimental conditions, young children benefited significantly more from e-book reading than from regular childcare without e-books (ES=+0.85). E-book reading was also more effective than print storybook reading in ECEC (ES=+0.45). Study features that could influence its effectiveness included story repetition, number of learning sessions, and curricular embeddedness. This meta-analysis provided evidence that typically-developing and at-risk children developed their language abilities when reading well-designed e-books in ECEC. Since e-book reading could complement regular childcare, it was suggested that children should frequently participate in reading activities, both digital and print, in early childhood education and care to enhance language skills.
Source: Egert, F., Cordes, A.-K., & Hartig, F. (2022). Can e-books foster child language? Meta-analysis on the effectiveness of e-book interventions in early childhood education and care. Educational Research Review, 37, 100472. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2022.100472