E-Book Review: Corrupting Comprehension?

I found that I didn’t comprehend what happened at the end of this e-book because I really didn’t pay close enough attention to what happened with the pretty girl and the golden eggs. I was more excited to try to chop down the beanstalk.

Not all e-books are created equal. Some are fabulous learning tools. Others are so distracting they are a detriment to your child’s reading comprehension.

Here I review the popular fable, Jack and the Beanstalk, as seen on a kids’ book club app on my iPhone. As I read, I recorded my thoughts as both a student and a teacher.

Student:

  • How interactive is the book?
    • When I click on the app, lively, Irish-sounding music plays and I have three options: “Auto Play,” “Read It Myself,” or “Read to Me”
    • I clicked on “Read It Myself,” I read four lines that introduced the characters in rhyme so it was a little hard to understand. Then I started clicking randomly on the picture. The mom and son said words to each other, the shingles fell off the house’s roof, and then out of nowhere, a stream of five game options came up. I played the game, “Memorize the Picture” and second I played “Count.” The games used graphics from the picture to pretty much do what they said. Five minutes later, I decided to read page 2. This time I played “Find the Item” after I read the page. I had to click on the picture it told me to each time and then it congratulated me. Clicking on the characters made noises and sometimes I could make items in the kitchen fall over or I could open and close the window.
    • Then I realized I had to option of playing the reading to me, and I noticed that the lines were highlighted yellow when it was read to me.
    • I was able to click and make things happen in the picture even while it was being read to me so the sounds and actions were simultaneous with the reading.

Teacher:

  • Are these interactive features/animations too distracting and take away from the comprehension of the lesson?
    • Some of the features aided comprehension, such as breaking the piggy bank and seeing that Jack and his mother had only two coins, watching Jack climb up the beanstalk, cut down the beanstalk, etc. The highlighted text was helpful, however it highlighted entire lines at a time, rather than words at a time, as it was read to you.
    • The fact that you can click on picture items and get a reaction from them while the story is being read to you just invites distraction from reading.
    • If you choose to play a counting or memory game between pages, it is even harder to follow the storyline because now you are taking yourself out of the storyline and focusing your brain on memorization of a picture or counting items.

Student:

  • What have you learned and how does it compare to print version of books?
    • I learned the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. I learned that Jack wore a funny green hat, that there was a giant high up in the sky and something about a pretty girl, a harp, and golden eggs. I never read the print version of this book, but I imagine it’s more boring because there would be no sounds or games. I liked playing the memory match game because it forces me to memorize the pictures, and I am good at that. I am a little confused about what actually happened though. I should read it again.

 Teacher

  • How is the quality of the actual story? Are concepts represented accurately? (cultural, ethnic, scientific facts, etc.)
    • The story is exactly as I have heard it before. I did enjoy getting to see Jack chop down the beanstalk.

Student and Teacher:

  • Were there any support tools to use while reading the text? Were they effective?
    • The only support tools were that lines were highlighted yellow as they were read. The background noise helped to understand the setting of each page. Clicking on the pictured helped to understand how each character was feeling sometimes because of the noise or word they said had expression to it.
    • The accompanying games available on every page had nothing to do with reading comprehension. They were all visual-memory-based. It helped me to memorize the pictures but not to understand who the characters were, what the conflict was, make predictions, or draw a theme from it all. Games that helped to do that would have been a lot more useful.

Student and Teacher:

  • What were some of the positives and negatives to using the e-book (in your opinion) ?
    • POSITIVES: music and pictures that can be manipulated add interest. Some of the pictures’ sounds and motions aid in comprehension of the text. Book can be read to you or you can choose to read the book.
    • NEGATIVES: it is extremely easy to not read or even listen to the book because you can play with the images while it is being read to you and you can listen to the sounds the touched pictures make even while the book is being read. Also, there are five games you can choose to play on each page and none of them aid in text comprehension, making it extremely easy to lose focus of character and plot. I would have liked to see games that asked the reader to put plot events into a sequence, make predictions, or match personality traits with characters. Even though I know the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, it has been years since I have heard it, and I found that I didn’t comprehend what happened at the end of this e-book because I really didn’t pay close enough attention to what happened with the pretty girl and the golden eggs. I was more excited to try to chop down the beanstalk.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *