Value of Traditional Books in Early Literacy

Traditional books in early literacy add value to childhood development in many ways, including nurturing a love of books and reading.  Whether reading with one child or a small group, hands-on interaction with printed material will benefit you and the children in your care. 

Value of traditional books for early literacy

This post contains affiliate links. Privacy and Disclosure


It's hard for kids - and grownups! - not to love traditional books. We're drawn to the colorful images and playful characters, as well as the cozy reading times with family and friends.

Traditional books play an important role in early reading experiences, adding hands-on interaction to the joy of reading.

Value of traditional books

Making traditional books available prompts kids to recognize the role literature plays in everyday life - for information and for entertainment. 

The convenience of reaching for a book helps kids learn at an early age to engage with reading material.

Part of the benefit of introducing, and relying on, traditional books is that there is no shortage of books and printed materials to draw from when we are planning story times.

  • Books are available for little or no cost at libraries.
  • Many book titles are easily ordered online, and at reasonable costs.
  • Books are shared among family and friends.
  • Local organizations donate books or funds to schools and other institutions. 


Traditional books vs digital text

In today's world, digital devices can replace or augment our traditional reading experiences. This applies to kids as well as to grownups. Computers and cell phones are used in the home and the classroom. 

There are many studies that discuss the issue of printed material versus digital text on e-readers and other devices.

1. This article discusses a study indicating better comprehension achieved in some cases through printed books.

2. This article guides parents through the pros and cons of both options

Without discounting the benefits of technology, I believe in the 
value of traditional story books to the early learning community. Traditional books complement the reading experience in ways that e-readers cannot.


Why traditional books?

Early childhood is where a journey into developing language and reading skills begins. Traditionally published books can be an valuable part of that journey.

Here are a few ideas to consider.  
  • Reading from printed material is a tactile experience. Books have size and weight, pages to flip, flaps to lift, padded covers, or contrasting inserts.
  • Children can pick up a book and immediately become engaged, while the e-reader requires knowledge and time to access a desired story page or app. Even though young people are known to be adept at figuring out the technology, an adult needs to be available to assist with the acquisition. 
  • Traditional books do not require batteries, software updates, etc.
  • Traditional books are read without the distractions that come with online reading, such as advertisements, music or screen prompts.
  • Printed materials such as activity books and coloring books initiate practice of fine motor skills involving pencils, crayons, erasers, or stickers.
  • Traditionally, books released by a publishing company have undergone a rigorous review/editing process, which must now be translated to the online market. With so much information available online, it is important to be aware of the quality and content of reading sites.


A combination of both digital and printed reading material may still be the best solution. In both cases, parents and teachers enhance the value of reading experiences by engaging with kids and interacting as they read.

Regardless of the medium, the reading process benefits kids with opportunities to ask questions, make comments, and express their emotions.


Make the most of reading times

1. Tips for small group reading

Teach young readers to take time to appreciate the whole book.


Traditional books for early readers


Examine the cover for characters or words that might provide clues to the story.

Identify the title, the author and the illustrator.

Draw attention to the way words are made up of the letters of the alphabet, displayed on the chart on the classroom wall! 

Read slowly and clearly, pausing when necessary to allow words to be explained, details in images to be pointed out, or personal experiences to be related.

2. Tips for independent reading

Books are a great option to have on hand for free play and quiet times, as well as transition times.

A wide range of options is available for independent reading at all levels, including cloth for babies, board books for toddlers, and picture books for preschoolers, and chapter books for early readers.


Book shelf for easy access of kids books



Make books accessible on low shelves or tables so children can make selections on their own.

Limit the number of titles on the shelf at one time. Too many options can be distracting.   

Keep covers visible. Avoid stacking books.

Refresh titles often.


Keep traditional books available to complement kids' reading experiences, so every page they turn becomes a new adventure and a quest for more books to explore.

Read and enjoy!


Literacy Activities on Pinterest


Share this page

Share this page