Reading is the gateway for learning, but one-third of elementary school students in the United States do not read at grade level. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are exploring how the design of reading materials affects literacy development. They find that an overly busy page with extraneous images can draw the reader’s attention away from the text, resulting in lower understanding of content.
The results of the study are available in the September issue of the journal npj Science of Learning.
“Learning to read is hard work for many kids,” said Anna Fisher, associate professor of psychology and senior author on the paper.
The typical design of books for beginning readers often include engaging and colorful illustrations to help define the characters and setting of the story, offer context for the text and motivate young readers. Fisher and Cassondra Eng, a doctoral candidate in CMU’s Department of Psychology and first