Technology and Learning How to Read
With a digitized version, additional elements can be added to a book. Since technology can add so many things, it is useful to divide online books into two classes: multimedia and interactive.
Sound or music can be provided. Pages can become animated. Stories can be made multimedia. The additional element can be as simple as someone narrating the story. An example is shown below from Storyline Online:
I can definitely see the advantage of listening to a voice actress such as Mindy Sterling read a story. The background music also helps in setting the proper mood. Adding a roar likewise does not hurt. These extra nonverbal pieces of information may in fact aid a child's reading comprehension.
Technology, however, may add even more. Stories can be made interactive. An example shown here is a page from Scholastic's Clifford Interactive StoryBooks:
There are smaller effects on expressive vocabulary but technology (neither multimedia nor multimedia plus interactive) actually offers no advantage on receptive vocabulary, code-related literacy skills, and engagement. The authors conclude that the addition of nonverbal information to story-telling may be allowing children to match verbal and nonverbal cues which help in story comprehension. On the other hand, interactive features may be adding considerable cognitive load which then prevents a child's mind to focus and understand the story. Thus, we are reminded of an old adage, Less is more....