Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Becoming Literate by Means of the internet


Marianne van Dijken


The positive effects of parent-child book reading on preschoolers’ emergent literacy skills have been recognised for decades. Nowadays, more storybooks are becoming available on the internet in an electronic format. While children need adult support in exploring a printed storybook, electronic storybooks are designed for independent exploration.

Comparable to adult book reading, storybooks on the computer provide pictures accompanied by an oral reading of the story. However, most electronic storybooks contain additional information sources, such as live-action video, animations, sound effects, or even interactive features. Such a synergy of information sources has been shown to positively affect story understanding, vocabulary and syntax, particularly in groups of linguistically disadvantaged children.  

Current study

The current study examines experimentally whether regularly visiting book-based programs on internet sites supports literacy of kindergarten children (4-6-year-old) just as storybook reading at home or in educational settings and if younger and older children profit equally. Moreover, interactive features in electronic storybooks are evaluated, thus examining whether computers offer an alternative for adult support. This study will inform parents and educators whether these new forms of independent book encounters can add to children’s literacy development.  

NWO grant

NWO grant to A. G. Bus for ‘Becoming Literate by Means of the Internet’-project: 411-05-117.

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