The Four Pillars of Learning: e-Books Past, Present, and Future

  • Brenna Hassinger-DasEmail author
  • Rebecca Dore
  • Jennifer M. Zosh
Part of the Literacy Studies book series (LITS, volume 18)


In this chapter, we will explore explanations for this conflicting evidence, and importantly, demonstrate the power of evidence-based recommendations for e-book use. In an effort to compare traditional books and e-books, this chapter will apply four pillars of learning generated from the Science of Learning (Hirsh-Pasek K, Zosh JM, Golinkoff RM, Gray JH, Robb MB, Kaufman J. Psychol Sci Public Interest 16(1):3–34., 2015)—active, engaged, meaningful, and socially interactive. By harnessing the science of learning and relying upon the lesson generated by decades of research in psychology, education, and cognitive science, this chapter will explore how we can harness the potential—and mitigate the drawbacks—of e-books. Technology can be a marvelous tool—but only if we know how to use it.


Science of learning e-Books Early childhood Literacy 


  1. AAP Council on Communications and Media. (2016). Media and young minds. Pediatrics, 138(5), e20162591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Audet, D., Evans, M. A., Williamson, K., & Reynolds, K. (2008). Shared book reading: Parental goals across the primary grades and goal–behavior relationships in junior kindergarten. Early Education and Development, 19(1), 112–137.
  3. Blewitt, P., Rump, K. M., Shealy, S. E., & Cook, S. A. (2009). Shared book reading: When and how questions affect young children’s word learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(2), 294–304. Scholar
  4. Brown, P. C., Roediger, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make it stick: The science of successful learning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bus, A. G., Takacs, Z. K., & Kegel, C. A. (2015). Affordances and limitations of electronic storybooks for young children’s emergent literacy. Developmental Review, 35, 79–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bus, A. G., Sari, B., & Takacs, Z. K. (this volume). The promise of multimedia enhancement in children’s storybooks. In J. Kim & B. Hassinger-Das (Eds.), Reading in the digital age: Young children’s experiences with E-books. Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
  7. Chi, M. T. H. (2009). Active-constructive-interactive: A conceptual framework for differentiating learning activities. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1(1), 73–105. Scholar
  8. Chiong, C., & DeLoache, J. S. (2012). Learning the ABCs: What kinds of picture books facilitate young children’s learning? Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 13, 225–241. Scholar
  9. Connor, C. M., Morrison, F. J., Fishman, B. J., Crowe, E. C., Al Otaiba, S., & Schatschneider, C. (2013). A longitudinal cluster-randomized controlled study on the accumulating effects of individualized literacy instruction on students’ reading from first through third grade. Psychological Science, 24, 1408–1419. Scholar
  10. Courage, M. L. (this volume). From print to digital: The medium is only part of the message. In J. Kim & B. Hassinger-Das (Eds.), Reading in the digital age: Young children’s experiences with E-books. Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
  11. Courage, M. L., Waring, S., & Flynn, K. (2017). E-storybooks for preschoolers: It’s not all about the books! Poster presented in invited session at SRCD pre-conference on poverty-related disparities in Children’s early language experience and language development: Prevention, intervention, and policy, Austin, TX.Google Scholar
  12. Csibra, G., & Gergely, G. (2009). Natural pedagogy. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13, 148–153. Scholar
  13. de Jong, M. T., & Bus, A. G. (2003). How well suited are electronic books to supporting literacy? Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 3(2), 147–164. Scholar
  14. Dore, R. A., Hassinger-Das, B., Brezack, N., Valladares, T., Paller, A., Vu, L., Golinkoff, R. M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2018). The parent advantage in children’s e-book comprehension. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 44, 24–33. Scholar
  15. Etta, R. A. (this volume). Parent preferences: E-books versus print books. In J. Kim & B. Hassinger-Das (Eds.), Reading in the digital age: Young children’s experiences with E-books. Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
  16. Etta, R. A, Kirkorian, H. L., & Choi, K. (2017, April). Preschoolers’ learning from children’s books: Effects of platform and interactivity. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in child development, Austin, TX.Google Scholar
  17. Fielding-Barnsley, R., & Purdie, N. (2003). Early intervention in the home for children at risk of reading failure. Support for Learning, 18, 77–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Flack, Z. M. & Horst, J. S. (2017). Two sides to every story: Children learn words better from one storybook page at a time. Infant and Child Development. Advance online publication.
  19. Gilmore, N. (2015). Nielsen summit shows the data behind the children’s book boom. Publisher’s Weekly. Retrieved from
  20. Hargrave, A. C., & Sénéchal, M. (2000). A book reading intervention with preschool children who have limited vocabularies: The benefits of regular reading and dialogic reading. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 15(1), 75–90. Scholar
  21. Hassinger-Das, B., Mahajan, N., Metz, R., Ramsook, K. R., Margulis, K., Hirsh-Pasek, K, Golinkoff, R. M., & Parish-Morris, J. (2016). Shared book-reading in the digital age: Examining differences in traditional and tablet books. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting, Washington, D. C.Google Scholar
  22. Hirsh-Pasek, K., Zosh, J. M., Golinkoff, R. M., Gray, J. H., Robb, M. B., & Kaufman, J. (2015). Putting education in “educational” apps: Lessons from the science of learning. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 16(1), 3–34. Scholar
  23. Kannass, K. N., & Colombo, J. (2007). The effects of continuous and intermittent distractors on cognitive performance and attention in preschoolers. Journal of Cognition and Development, 8, 63–77. Scholar
  24. Korat, O., & Or, T. (2010). How new technology influences parent-child interaction: The case of e-book reading. First Language, 30(2), 139–154. Scholar
  25. Krcmar, M., & Cingel, D. P. (2014). Parent-child joint reading in traditional and electronic formats. Media Psychology, 17, 262–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kucirkova, N., Messer, D., & Sheehy, K. (2014). Reading personalized books with preschool children enhances their word acquisition. First Language, 34(3), 227–243. Scholar
  27. Lauricella, A. R., Barr, R., & Calvert, S. L. (2014). Parent-child interactions during traditional and computer storybook reading for children’s comprehension: Implications for electronic book design. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 2, 17–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mayer, R. E. (Ed.). (2014). The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Metzger, S. (2003). The little snowflake. New York: Scholastic.Google Scholar
  30. Mol, S. E., Bus, A. G., de Jong, M. T., & Smeets, D. J. H. (2008). Added value of dialogic parent-child book readings: A meta-analysis. Early Education and Development, 19(1), 7–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Moody, A. K. (2010). Using electronic books in the classroom to enhance emergent literacy skills in young children. Journal of Literacy and Technology, 11(4), 22–52.Google Scholar
  32. Parish-Morris, J., Mahajan, N., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., & Collins, M. F. (2013). Once upon a time: Parent-child dialogue and storybook reading in the electronic era. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7, 200–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Revelle, G. L., Strouse, G. A., Troseth, G. L., Rvachew, S., & Thompson Forrester, D. (this volume). Technology support for adults and children reading together. In J. Kim & B. Hassinger-Das (Eds.), Reading in the digital age: Young children’s experiences with E-books. Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
  34. Richter, A., & Courage, M. L. (2017). Comparing electronic and paper storybooks for preschoolers: Attention, engagement, and recall. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 48, 92–102. Scholar
  35. Rideout, V. J. (2014, January). Learning at home: Families’ educational media use in America. A report of the families and media project. New York: Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.Google Scholar
  36. Smeets, D. J., & Bus, A. G. (2014). The interactive animated e-book as a word learning device for kindergartners. Applied PsychoLinguistics, 1–22.
  37. Strouse, G. A., & Ganea, P. A. (2017). Toddlers’ word learning and transfer from electronic and print books. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology., 156, 129–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Takacs, Z. K., Swart, E. K., & Bus, A. G. (2015, December). Can the computer replace the adult for storybook reading? A meta-analysis on the effects of multimedia stories as compared to sharing print stories with an adult. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1–12. Scholar
  39. Tare, M., Chiong, C., Ganea, P., & DeLoache, J. (2010). Less is more: How manipulative features affect children’s learning from picture books. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 31, 395–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Van Daal, V. H. P., Sandvik, J. M., & Adèr, H. J. (this volume). A meta-analysis of multimedia applications: How effective are interventions with E-books, computer-assisted instruction and TV/video on literacy learning? In J. Kim & B. Hassinger-Das (Eds.), Reading in the digital age: Young children’s experiences with E-book. Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
  41. Van Kleeck, A. (2008). Providing preschool foundations for later reading comprehension: The importance of and ideas for targeting inferencing in storybook-sharing interventions. Psychology in the Schools, 45, 627–643.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wasik, B. A., & Bond, M. A. (2001). Beyond the pages of a book: Interactive book reading in preschool classrooms. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 43–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Watson, J. M., & Strayer, D. L. (2010). Supertaskers: Profiles in extraordinary multitasking ability. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 479–485. Scholar
  44. Whitehurst, G. J., Falco, F. L., Lonigan, C. J., Fischel, J. E., DeBaryshe, B. D., Valdez-Menchaca, M. C., & Caulfield, M. (1988). Accelerating language development through picture book reading. Developmental Psychology, 24(4), 552. Retrieved from Scholar
  45. Whitehurst, G. J., Arnold, D. S., Epstein, J. N., Angell, A. L., Smith, M., & Fischel, J. E. (1994). A picture book reading intervention in day care and home for children from low-income families. Developmental Psychology, 30, 679–689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Yuill, N., & Martin, A. F. (2016, December). Curling up with a good e-book: Mother-child shared story reading on screen or paper affects embodied interaction and warmth. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1–12. Scholar
  47. Zevenbergen, A. A., & Whitehurst, G. J. (2003). Dialogic reading: A shared picture book reading intervention for preschoolers. In A. Van Kleeck & S. A. Stahl (Eds.), On reading books to children: Parents and teachers (pp. 177–200). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brenna Hassinger-Das
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rebecca Dore
    • 2
  • Jennifer M. Zosh
    • 3
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentPace UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and PolicyOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesPenn State University—BrandywineMediaUSA

Personalised recommendations