Ereaders & Struggling Readers

Much has been discussed this week with regard to the affordances of  eReaders, and while I enjoy using the device recreationally, I wanted to see if there were any studies documenting outcomes for struggling readers. I found little research, with the exception of one dissertation that examined the impact of eReaders on this population of students . This  study  compared text presented in 3 different formats with groups of grade 3 and 4 students, some of whom were identified with reading disabilities: eBooks with full text-to-speech (TTS) narration, eBooks with vocabulary and TTS support on selected words, and paper-based print with no supports.

The study found that poor readers who used the full TTS narration had significantly improved comprehension when asked to orally recount the story, but had no improvement on comprehension as measured by multiple choice questions.  This result is in line with a review of the literature that documented positive outcomes on reading ability and comprehension with struggling readers who use TTS on computers. So do we need eReaders? Could we just use computers, if they are available, and not spend money for technology that has nothing new to offer?

This duplication of the traditional reading experience is what Lankes has questioned in his 2010 article, “Ereaders, the iPad–Is That All There Is? ”  His point is that the eReader should be about reinventing the reading experience to incorporate the abilities of digital documents and networks. He would like to see eReader technology recreate reading as a “conversation in which authors, readers, and an entire community can use the book to build knowledge and exchange ideas” (Lankes, 2010, p. 32). Like many other devices evolving to Web 3.0 capabilities, eReaders should be exploiting  social networking to share notes, questions, comments with other readers, perhaps even the author, in “real time”. How about”bibliocasts” where, similar to with podcasts, revisions and commentary are automatically downloaded and synced? Who better to help drive this revolution, than the digital natives who perhaps, shunning traditional forms of reading, would embrace an more social, electronically interactive form?  Whether eReaders remain on the table or are replaced with a newer incarnation, all I can say is that it won’t take long; technology changes as fast as the weather on the west coast! 🙂

Gonzalez, M. R. (2010). The effect of interactive eBooks on the reading comprehension of struggling readers and students with reading disabilities. Education). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Retrieved from

Lankes, R. (2010). Ereaders, the iPad–Is That All There Is?. School Library Journal, 56(4), 32-34. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Posted in: Week 06: eBooks