Trend story

The deep connection between printed paper and reading

More and more studies and evidence emphasise the value of printed media in promoting deep reading, especially during school age.

Are we losing our ability to read deeply?

Yes, at least according to research recently published and analysed by Two Sides UK. These studies are indicating this trend, especially in 9-10 years old who are moving from the ‘learning to read’ to the ‘reading to learn’ stage.

This evidence is also claimed by the American journalist John R. MacArthur who, in a recently published article in the Guardian, examined data from a survey conducted by the US Department for Education. Researchers found that the comprehension skills of the 13-year-old students surveyed declined by an average of four points since the pre-Covid school year 2019/2020. MacArthur therefore hypothesises a connection between the decline in comprehension ability and the steady increase of digital learning media.

Paper reading vs digital reading

The subject has been matter of discussion for some time, and a study by a team of neuroscientists led by Dr Karen Froud (Teachers College, Columbia University) confirmed that 10-12 year-old children read ‘more deeply’ when they do it on paper, avoiding the distractions (scrolling, notifications) that the nature of a digital device brings.

Before the advent of digital texts, most reading was in-depth reading. In her 2009 article “The Importance of Deep Reading” the studious Maryanne Wolf said that “by deep reading, we mean the array of sophisticated processes that propel comprehension and that includes inferential and deductive reasoning, analogical skills, critical analysis, reflection, and insight. The expert reader needs milliseconds to execute these processes; the young brain needs years to develop them. Both of these pivotal dimensions of time are potentially endangered by the digital culture’s pervasive emphasis on immediacy.”

Deep reading

The importance of printed books, at school and home

To return to a deep reading, therefore, it is necessary to return to a focus on printed paper. Swedish schools, for example, are taking measures to reintroduce the focus on printed books and handwriting practice.

At home, according to Wolf, parents play an important role in encouraging reading printed books, so that they are as much a part of their children’s everyday life as digital media.

Consumers prefer printed books

These theories are supported by data: a survey conducted by Two Sides last year confirmed that 65% of European readers prefer to read printed books and 52% believe that children learn more from reading books and other printed materials.

In conclusion, the increasing amount of research analysing the differences between reading in print versus digital media portrays an increasingly clear picture that, in terms of learning, print is to be preferred.

Concerning printed books for school, Burgo Group’s EDUCA is the bulky lightweight coated (LWC) paper specifically developed by Burgo Papers for school and educational publishing. Also available with PEFC and FSC® certification, EDUCA offers opacity and excellent rendering in the reproduction of images and written text, making reading truly enjoyable.

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