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Once Upon a Time: Parent–Child Dialogue and Storybook Reading in the Electronic Era


Address correspondence to Julia Parish-Morris, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine, 3535 Market Street Suite 860, Philadelphia, PA, 19104; e-mail:


Early experiences with books predict later reading success, and an interactive shared reading style called “dialogic reading” is especially beneficial to emergent literacy. Electronic console (EC) books, CD-rom books, and e-book apps are designed to teach preschoolers preliteracy skills, but research has yet to systematically explore the impact of these types of books on established predictors of positive literacy outcomes. This research fills that gap with two studies investigating dialogic language and children's story comprehension in a total of 165 parent–child dyads reading battery-operated, touch-sensitive children's electronic console books or traditional books. Results revealed that parent–child dialogic reading and children's story comprehension were both negatively affected by the presence of electronic features. Ways in which e-books may be altered to better serve as educational tools in this new era are discussed.