Organizing Shared Digital Reading in Groups: Optimizing the Affordances of Text and Medium

Hoel, T., Tønnessen, E. S.
Aera Open, 5(4):1-14.


The purpose of the study is to investigate the design of shared digital reading (reading groups) as a basis for critical reflection on the reading situation in an institutional context with given possibilities and limitations. This is because children develop language when exploring and talking about literary texts. The study has two research questions:

(1) What characterises kindergarten teachers’ strategies for managing children’s access to media and text?

(2) What type of response to the medium and narrative do these strategies generate?


The kindergarten teacher was free to plan, approach and organise the reading situation in the manner they saw fit. As a result, contrasting strategies were found between teachers. Some of the kindergarten teachers looked at and treated the tablet as a traditional book. These teachers took more control over the group and access to the medium. Other kindergarten teachers had a more shared and open approach to the tablet. Both approaches involved challenges regarding how to manage the media-specific interactive possibilities and elements. Either the children lacked access to hotspots or the teacher lacked control. Sharing strategies seemed to entail more talk about the medium from the teacher. 


Four ways of using tablets in teaching emerged from the analyses:

  1. No strategy (which was not further used in the study’s analysis).
  2. Show strategy: The kindergarten teacher holds the screen up so the children can see it. Here, focus is placed on the story, as other aspects of the reading event, such as questions about the story and children’s access to tap the screen, are controlled by the kindergarten teacher.
  3. Show-and-share strategy: The kindergarten teacher looks towards the children while holding the tablet, which is also available for the children to tap whenever they want. The children are closer to the medium but remain well-organised, and access to the medium is controlled less by the kindergarten teacher.
  4. Share strategy: The children lie on their fronts on the floor with the kindergarten teacher sitting in the middle. Everyone is facing the tablet and has access to tap it, and the kindergarten teacher asks questions along the way. Focus is placed on the medium, and control over the tablet is negotiated between participants.


Regarding utterances about texts, one found a relatively balanced relationship between the utterances of children and the kindergarten teacher, regardless of how the reading situation was organised. At the same time, the show strategy generated more dialogue and more utterances in total. In some cases, one found differences that could not be explained with the choice of the kindergarten teacher’s strategy. This shows that more investigation is needed regarding how the actual dialogue is initiated and led by the kindergarten teacher.


The researchers collected data from kindergarten teachers and selected kindergarten children in six different kindergartens. The number of kindergarten children participating in the shared readings varied from 4-6 children, with both girls and boys present. The sample consisted of six 5-year-old children (boys and girls) whose language skills were good enough for them to participate in the dialogue-based reading of age-appropriate literary texts. The reading sequences were filmed.


Hoel, T. & Tønnessen, E. S. (2019). "Organizing Shared Digital Reading in Groups: Optimizing the Affordances of Text and Medium". Aera Open, 5(4):1-14.

Financed by

The Research Council of Norway, Norway