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June 17, 2013

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Tech ‘toys’ boost children’s literacy by enhancing summer reading

Tablets, e-Readers and other digital devices are increasing the options for maintaining children’s literacy level over the summer, or even drawing in reluctant readers. It’s all about knowing which device or mode of reading is the right fit for you and your children, a University of Victoria researcher says.

“The technology that’s available, whether it’s e-Readers or iPads or other tablets, is expanding our notions of what reading is and each device offers something different in terms of how it supports literacy and the reading experience offered,” says Dr. James Nahachewsky, a UVic assistant professor researching the impact and contributions of evolving technologies on the ongoing transformation of literacy.

The latest entry into the e-Reader market arrived last week as the Kindle Fire became available in Canada. But parents don’t necessarily need the newest offering to get what they want for their children, says Nahachewsky, whose research confirms that despite concerns over “screen time”, tech devices can help kids become better readers.

The ability to personalize to suit individual need is the key to bolstering interest and engagement in reading. Tablets include various interactive features that can prove helpful in grabbing and holding the interest of reluctant readers, while e-Readers are great for a digital rendering of a book’s pages with control of factors such as font type and size, and text-to-speech. As a result, young readers benefit by becoming experts on both the technology and the texts they encounter, Nahachewsky says.

Accessibility of content is also increasing as more material is becoming available for free online or through the public library, which is helpful for ensuring there’s no shortage of reading material for the summer camping trip or week at the cabin.

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  Media Contacts:

James Nahachewsky (Education) at 250-721-7780 or jnahache@uvic.ca
Mitch Wright (UVic Communications) at 250-721-6139 or mwwright@uvic.ca

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