Benefits of Reading Printed Books

Readers of print books absorb and remember more of the plot than readers of e-books do, according to a study that was presented in Italy in 2014. In an earlier study, print readers also scored higher in other areas, such as empathy, immersion in the book, and understanding of the narrative. Scientists believe this effect is related to the tactile sensation of holding a book in your hands.

In other words, seeing and feeling how much progress you’ve made in the story, by virtue of the waxing and waning pages on either side of the book, can help readers feel like they’re unfolding the story—both literally and figuratively. Plus, with a print book, it’s easier to go back and confirm information you may be unsure of without losing your place and having to scroll or click back on your mobile device or tablet.

Another study of young children between the ages of three and five revealed that kids had lower comprehension of the story when their parents read to them from an e-book as opposed to a print book. Researchers theorize this arises because children get distracted by the electronic device and have a harder time focusing on the story itself. In another study, students who had read a short story on a e-reader were less engaged and had a harder time remembering the exact order of events.

When you’re winding down for the night, reading from a screen or scrolling through a social media app on your phone are bad ideas. Study after study has shown that the blue light from your screen can toy with your melatonin levels and circadian cycles, making it harder for you to fall asleep and making you feel groggier when you wake up. In general, though, the engagement and brain activity that come with reading can help you drift off to sleep when you’re having trouble. So if you’re hoping to get a good night’s rest, stick with print.

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