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Audio vs. Digital vs. Print Books

Managing the technology boom with children continues to be an ongoing discussion among parents and educators. How much screen time for a toddler? What are the benefits of eBooks compared to print books? I, too, have questioned what type of reading materials to use with my son as he grows. My solution comes down to one word: diversity!

Exposing children to a variety of reading experiences has its benefits. Some have practical advantages while others have more research-based ones. Here is what I have learned as a mom and an educator:

Type of Reading Material Pros Cons
Audio Books aka “Books on Tape”
  • builds listening comprehension
  • quiet time activity
  • need some basic hardware, such as headphones or speakers
  • limited selection


  • less expensive than print
  • portable & accessible
  • difficult to point to words to track reading for emerging readers
  • dependent on technology
Print Books
  • easy for kids to engage with text
  • wide selection
  • more expensive than eBooks
  • keeping books organized & cleaning them up

I have decided to take a “balanced diet” approach to Jack’s reading this summer. At different points of his day, he has different types of stories. For example, he listens to books with his headphones after a busy morning playing soccer. I have found several classic children stories on Spotify with the “just right” length and interest. Before he showers for bedtime, Jack enjoys an eBook from Tumble Books. He has his own library card so he can have free access to Tumble Books. And as for print books, Jack is gaining more and more independence as a reader so he enjoys reading after lunch and before bedtime.

All of the reading materials have advantages. eBooks are becoming more and more accessible for kids to have books instantly at their fingertips. Audio books build their attention span in a busy world around them. Print books can be cozied up with kids’ favorite cuddles and loved ones to enjoy a story or two. All of them boost kids’ brains in different ways!

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Audio vs. Digital vs. Print Books

Audio vs. Digital vs. Print Books

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