ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (5): 759-768.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2023.00759

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The contribution of dictionary interactivity on young children’s electronic picture book reading

WU Xiuying, LI Feifei, LIU Baogen()   

  1. School of Child Development and Education, Zhejiang Normal University, Hangzhou 311231, China
  • Received:2022-03-16 Online:2023-05-15 Published:2023-02-13
  • Contact: LIU Baogen


In the digital era, young children have become increasingly exposed to electronic picture books, both at home and in educational settings. Most electronic picture books are programmed to be interactive such as being functional with dictionary interactivity. Dictionary interactivity provides young children an explanation of the word and clarifies its meaning with the animation. The effect of dictionary interactivity on picture book reading among young children has been the focus of research for the past two decades. To summarize the contribution of dictionary interactivity on the young children’s reading engagement, vocabulary learning and story comprehension, we conducted a systematic review of the literature.
This review identified that the dictionary interactivity facilitates young children’s engagement in reading electronic picture books. With the support of dictionary interactivity, young children achieve similar results in reading electronic picture books as they engaged in shared reading with adults with hardcopy picture books. Compared to traditional pictures books, the advantage of electronic books with dictionary interactivity in promoting children’ engagement is not obvious. We propose that this result is partially due to the assessments of children’s reading engagement in previous studies that lack objectiveness.
In terms of vocabulary learning, the review found the dictionary interactivity offer the similar educational affordance as print picture book on vocabulary learning. Young children reading electronic picture book with dictionary interactivity learn more words that appear in the book, and young children progressed the most after reading the electronic picture book with dynamic dictionary and the printed focal words. The effectiveness of dictionary interactivity in the support of vocabulary learning among children with special needs is well recognized, yet its effect on children from different socioeconomic status remains debatable. Inconsistent findings exist in different empirical studies regarding the effect of dictionary interactivity on children’s story comprehension. It is difficult to draw a conclusion due to the research design and the assessment of story comprehension that varied in previous studies. The factors including the content of text, the means of interactions with dictionary interactivity during reading, and children’s individual differences were identified that may impact the effect of dictionary interactivity on children’s reading comprehension. Findings are discussed in relation to the cognitive load theory and multi-media learning theory.
This review proposed a few revenues for future studies. Firstly, to assess children’s reading engagement more effectively, the application of eye-trackers and bio-feedback instrument in future research may help to achieve more solid evidence. Secondly, in addition to explore the content of text and types of vocabulary that have impact on children’s vocabulary learning with dictionary interactivity, the factors relating to children’s initiative and the complexity of dictionary interactivity merit further exploration. Thirdly, intervention study is necessary to promote young children’s reading engagement, vocabulary learning and story comprehension, based on their individual characteristics. Finally, most existing research focuses on one aspect of children reading experiences (reading engagement, vocabulary acquisition, reading comprehension) that are associated with the function of dictionary interactivity, yet little attention focuses on the mechanisms underpinning the factors that impact the three different aspects in general. Future research that explores the underlying mechanisms form maximizing the function of dictionary interactivity in promoting reading experiences with electronic picture books is needed.

Key words: dictionary interactivity, electronic picture book, reading engagement, vocabulary learning, reading comprehension

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