The best research-based books on children’s technology use

Natalia Kucirkova Author Of The Future of the Self: Understanding Personalization in Childhood and Beyond
By Natalia Kucirkova

Who am I?

As an avid reader, I have been fascinated by children’s reading development and began researching this topic with a specific interest in the personal motivation of young readers. I examined children’s reading in various digital formats, including e-books made by families and children themselves. Today, I work as Professor in Norway and the UK and enjoy working across academia and industry. I feel very passionate about communicating research in an accessible way to children’s teachers, caregivers, and policy-makers. The books on my list do this exceptionally well, and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I did.


I wrote...

The Future of the Self: Understanding Personalization in Childhood and Beyond

By Natalia Kucirkova,

Book cover of The Future of the Self: Understanding Personalization in Childhood and Beyond

What is my book about?

"Kucirkova provides a much-needed nuanced understanding of the impact of personal data economy on today’s children. She describes the various forms of personalized childhoods, including selfies, avatars, digital personalised books, story apps, or toys. The book critically examines the key changes that have taken place in representations of self in the 21st century and their impact on families and children’s learning. The many ways in which personal data are collected, enhanced, and distributed by technologies are discussed against the backdrop of broader societal trends, such as globalization, technologisation, and personal data economy. The book provides a balanced account of the positives and negatives of personalisation on children’s identity, key learning outcomes, and socio-emotional development."

The books I picked & why

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How We Read Now: Strategic Choices for Print, Screen, and Audio

By Naomi S. Baron,

Book cover of How We Read Now: Strategic Choices for Print, Screen, and Audio

Why this book?

In this book, Baron provides an accessible and comprehensive guide to the latest knowledge on a specific digital activity: reading with screens. Her focused and nuanced perspective on a specific aspect of living with screens is a refreshing approach. I enjoyed reading about research on digital reading from various perspectives and the practical advice for applying this knowledge to my own reading habits. I particularly liked the engaging account of the differences between reading print and digital books and how that is different from audio stories. As someone who has been researching young children’s reading in relation to new media, I found the summary of research on various types of text particularly interesting.


Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens

By Lisa Guernsey, Michael H. Levine,

Book cover of Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens

Why this book?

Tap, Click, Read was one of the first books to describe reading with screens in a balanced and measured way. I liked that the authors engaged with a range of research studies and outlined the significant potential of digital books for children’s literacy development, particularly if the books are designed with research principles in mind. The book inspired me to write in jargon-free language when communicating research to non-academic audiences. I loved the many examples in the book illustrating how young children tap, click and indeed read with modern interactive screens.


Parenting for a Digital Future: How Hopes and Fears about Technology Shape Children's Lives

By Sonia Livingstone, Alicia Blum-Ross,

Book cover of Parenting for a Digital Future: How Hopes and Fears about Technology Shape Children's Lives

Why this book?

Many parents are worried about the amount of time their children spend with screens and look for ways and a deeper understanding of how to best manage children’s use of modern technologies. I loved how Livingstone and Blum-Ross brought together research, deep thinking, and applicable strategies in one coherent book volume. I learnt so much from reading this book, including how algorithms shape children’s games and social conversations. The most important takeaway for me was the vital need to support children’s rights in the digital age.


Exploring Key Issues in Early Childhood and Technology: Evolving Perspectives and Innovative Approaches

By Chip Donohue (editor),

Book cover of Exploring Key Issues in Early Childhood and Technology: Evolving Perspectives and Innovative Approaches

Why this book?

The beauty of edited books is that they provide readers with an array of viewpoints and approaches. In this book, top scholars researching the topics of digital media and early childhood are brought together to give their summaries and key takeaways for specific digital activities with young children, including reading, play, and communication with friends and family. I enjoyed learning about the diverse approaches and was inspired by the use of technologies described by researchers from across the world. 


Changing Play: Play, Media and Commercial Culture from the 1950s to the Present Day

By Jackie Marsh, Julia Bishop,

Book cover of Changing Play: Play, Media and Commercial Culture from the 1950s to the Present Day

Why this book?

I found it fascinating to read how play has changed over the past fifty years and beyond. I found many parallels between the changes to children’s play and changes to children’s reading. The influence of mass media on today’s children's play is undeniable and the authors did a great job of highlighting both the potentials and limitations of this influence. I was left with many questions and ideas after reading the book and really enjoyed how the book taught me to think about children’s play in a new way.


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