I have conducted a series of studies to examine children’s use of touchscreen devices for storybook reading. I looked at how children interact with and learn from touchscreen storybooks.


  1. My study suggested that children who read a touchscreen storybook were equally engaged as those reading the print version of the same story with an adult, but the former group had slightly lower reading comprehension posttest scores [paper in AERA Open].

  2. Interaction with touchscreen storybooks enhanced children’s emotional engagement and visual attention, but not verbal engagement [paper in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning].

  3. Screen-based reading imposes additional cost to children’s navigation of the book, especially for children under four years old and those who are less experienced with tablet devices [paper in IDC2019].

  4. Analyzing the log data of children’s reading behaviors suggested that interactive storybooks may be a useful tool for teaching children effective reading strategies to repair their misunderstanding of challenging text [paper in Reading and Writing].

Future Work

Overall, this line of research suggests that currently available digital storybooks have some potential for engaging children in reading at an early age, yet there is room for improvement. This has inspired me to further research how to best design digital reading experiences that are developmentally appropriate for young children, including the “Conversational Agents as Reading Partners” project and the “Scalable Conversational AI for Literacy Development” project.


  • Xu, Y., Yau, J., & Reich, S. (2020). Press, swipe, and read: Can interactive features in e-books facilitate engagement and learning?. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. [DOI]

  • Umarji, O., Day, S., Xu, Y., Zargar, E., Connor, C., & Yu, R. (2020). Opening the black box: User-log analysis of children’s e-book reading and association with word knowledge. Reading and Writing. [DOI]

  • Reich, S., Yau, J., Xu, Y., Muskat, T., Campbell, J., & Cannata, D. (2019). Digital or print? A comparison of preschooler’s comprehension, vocabulary, and engagement from a print book and an eBook. AERA Open. 5(3), 1-16. [DOI]

  • Xu, Y., Yau, J.C., & Reich, S. (2019). The added challenge of digital reading: Exploring young children’s page turning behaviors. In Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Interaction Design and Children. June 12-15, 2019, Boise, ID. ACM. [DOI] (Best Short Paper Award)