New research studies by Institute for Research on Reading and Media

The Institute for Research on Reading and Media has published three new studies on reading.

Potential of E-Readers in the Promotion of Reading: Study Summary
With the use of e-readers, reading becomes more appealing for children and teenagers. This is
one of the major findings of a study conducted in 2011 by the German reading foundation
Stiftung Lesen on the „Potential of E-Readers in the Promotion of Reading“. The study clearly
shows that the use of e-readers lowers the inhibition threshold for the first contact with books.
For this experimental study, the reading behaviour of children of four classes* (grade 6) has
been examined during one year. One class has been provided with a library of printed books,
another class with e-readers and e-books. Class three has been provided with printed books as
well as e-readers and e-books, and a fourth class has not been equipped with a library at all, but
was taken as control group. The selection of titles the children had access to, was in all three
classes identical, whether as printed books or as e-books.
The analysis of the children’s reading attitudes shows that children who are provided with ereaders
and e-books are much more attracted by the literature available than those who have
access to printed books only. The same is true for „thick books“: as e-books they are chosen far
more frequently than their printed counterparts. An e-book cover obviously looks harmless,
whereas a book spine may have a discouraging effect on unexperienced readers.
However, to keep the initial enthusiasm alive and to turn it into a sustainable interest in
reading, some essential (technical) preconditions have to be fulfilled:
• appealing selection of literature (books, comics, etc.)
• fast, smooth and intuitive access to e-books
• chat function
• comment function
From the perspectives of children, e-readers give books a „cool“ and modern image. Therefore,
the use of this technical device will surely play a major role in tomorrow’s promotion of reading.
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Non-use of public libraries in Germany: Study Summary
The German reading foundation Stiftung Lesen and the German Library Association have released a representative telephone survey* on the reasons for the non-use of public libraries. For the first time, it has been examined why adolescents and adults do not – or no longer – use city or municipal libraries. **
The computer-assisted telephone interviews were conducted in October and November 2011 and 1.301 individuals aged 14 to 75 were surveyed – among them 28 percent non-users, 41 percent former users and 29 percent users of libraries. The major findings are listed below.
Reasons why people do not or no longer use public libraries:
 restricted opening hours
 unattractive premises
 no cafeteria
 personal habits
 lack of interesting events
Furthermore, it has been examined how public library services could be rendered more appealing in order to increase the number of users.

Most of the users of public libraries interviewed for this survey have become acquainted with libraries during childhood. This is one of the most outstanding findings of the study which points to the fact that early promotion of children is a key factor in this issue. Therefore, the focus of public library services should be on low-threshold offers for families as well as on co-operations with schools and kindergardens. This allows even children of lower educated parents to get lifelong access to the world of reading. To attract an increasing number of young people, public libraries should offer a wide range of digital media. This bears great potential for an increase in popularity of public libraries which is .a very important factor: it should not be forgotten that a vivid library scene is indispensable for a successful reading promotion.
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Reading to Children

Research findings on reading to children clearly demonstrate that reading to children has many immediate as well as medium-term benefits. Parents who instill in their kids a love for reading make a major contribution to an integral education of their children. They help build cognitive, emotional and social skills, and thereby encourage their offspring to become open-minded and active members of society, in short: a success in life.
Reading to children immediately
• encourages comprehension of symbols and therewith competences in communication,
• stimulates cognitive competences and
• enhances emotional competences.
Reading to children in medium-term dimension
• encourages them to become readers and love reading – not only books but also electronic reading devices.
• builds several skills that lead to more success at school in a variety of subjects including languages, math, music and sport.
• is especially useful for boys in that it makes even them – who generally read less than girls – enjoy reading.
• helps moderate the big drop in reading that usually occurs during adolescence, in particular among the 14 to 19-year-olds.
• has a long-lasting positive effect which is still to be seen in young adults.
Reading to children in general
• is especially useful when parents do it regularly. The more often children are read out to, the more they benefit from that. But even if parents practice reading out only once a week, it still has a positive impact on their children’s reading attitudes. This is especially true for boys.
• stimulates their development in many respects. They also love meeting with friends, doing sport and playing an instrument to a greater extent than those teenagers who were not read to in their childhood.
Unfortunately the reading situation in families is not at all satisfactory:
 The less the formal education of the parents the less the frequency of reading to their children. Disadvantages in education are passed on to the children.
 Fathers – who are important role models for boys – often leave reading to children to the mothers. That gives boys the impression that reading is only for girls.

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