Document Type


Publication Date



School of Education Counseling and Psychology in Education


Reading engagement, Reading medium, Research synthesis, Systematic review


Child Psychology | Educational Psychology | Educational Technology


Children’s engagement during shared reading of ebooks and paper books (reading medium) has been compared in numerous studies. Findings vary, making it difficult to advise caretakers and educators in selecting reading materials for children. The primary purpose of this systematic review is to synthesize the prior findings on reading medium engagement in children to ascertain the overall effect of reading medium on behavioral, emotional, and cognitive engagement. The secondary purpose was to examine which characteristics of ebooks and reading contexts may possibly better support which forms of engagement. A systematic review of experimental reading medium comparisons on children’s engagement during shared reading was conducted. Studies needed to compare the same book or books in both paper and ebook form to be included. The systematic search yielded 15 eligible studies with 27 behavioral engagement effect sizes, 16 emotional engagement effect sizes, and 24 cognitive engagement effect sizes. Based on meta-analyses, there were no reliable differences between reading medium on any form of engagement. Based on a narrative synthesis, narrated ebooks appeared to foster greater levels of behavioral engagement in terms of visual attention than paper books. Parents and children demonstrated similar patterns of emotional and cognitive engagement with each other. Enhancements to ebooks may possibly foster all three forms of engagement. Overall, the results provide some insight into why enhancements may facilitate reading comprehension as well as why static ebooks comprehension is typically less than paper book comprehension.

Publication Title

International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction



First Page




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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Available for download on Saturday, January 04, 2025