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Implementing Augmented Reality to 

Increase Reading Comprehension and Interest 

Lee A Scott, Education Advisor, 2023 

Executive Summary  

The most recent Nation’s Report Card showed test scores of 4th and 8th graders had  dropped three points in three years placing students at the same level as in 1992.1 This is a  disturbing trend as the ability to read is a key to success in school, careers, and life. How  can we address the issue and use the most current research, methodology and  technology to combat the situation? 

A recent report on the reading crisis suggests several approaches to provide: 

• Opportunities for collaborative environments recognizing reading as a social  activity. 

• Relevant reading texts and activities to engage students. 

• Tools to measure and support students’ progress in vocabulary, comprehension, and other literacy skills; and 

• Confidence building for student success.2 

This paper proposes an approach that weaves together best practices in reading  instruction and intervention using proven methodology with the most recent applications of advanced technology. 

Impact of Dialogic Reading    

All students need strong vocabulary and comprehension skills to gain knowledge.  Research shows participating in a shared reading experience increases students’ understanding and interest in reading. “Children’s engagement during a read aloud can  be increased by creating anticipation regarding the story, making predictions about what  will happen in the story, making connections with the characters, and by utilizing dialogic  reading strategies.”3. 

Dialogic reading means having a conversation, or dialog, about the story as the educator reads with the students. The conversation brings the story into the student's world to  make it more meaningful. It also supports vocabulary building, language development  and reading comprehension. Educators use a series of techniques during a reading  session. The key word is “with” rather than “to.” Educators are reading with students rather than to them. The prompts used include answering open-ending questions about  the story's characters, main ideas, and events in the story, then asking questions to help  clarify or expand on key points. They may ask students to reflect on events in the story  and relate them to real life and build on how the students respond. Studies have shown  that students’ reading skills gains are significant after educators apply this approach.4,5,6. 

The goal of a dialogic approach is to create an environment where the student is an active participant in the reading session. Instead of passively listening while being read to or reading silently alone (which is difficult for reluctant readers), the student is engaged in  the story through conversation that helps to make the story, events, and vocabulary more  meaningful. This has resulted in skills growth in all areas of language development.7  Students as active participants provide the educator with an instant feedback loop on how the student is using language and comprehending the concepts and ideas in the  story. This is vital information to encourage and support the students’ development. 

Another benefit of dialogic reading is the positive impact on students’ behavior.8 Poor oral  language skills are directly linked to poor reading skills with a negative effect on behavior.  Several studies have shown that early language deficits are predictors of future behavioral  problems.9,10,11 Researchers theorize that low oral language skills interfere with  

development of pragmatic language, leading to behavioral issues. Pragmatic language is  the ability to connect with others in conversation on a similar communication level and  be understood by others. Initiating a dialogic reading approach provides opportunities for  students to discuss concepts from the stories, share ideas and practice pragmatic  language skills for long term academic and social benefit.  

These specific comprehension strategies create a positive influence on how students  internalize information and language. “Those strategies include connecting the known to  the unknown, determining importance, questioning, visualizing, inferring, and  synthesizing.” 12 When consistently applied, students can deepen their understanding of  text and draw conclusions about what they have read, which is an essential literacy skill. 

Learning through Storytelling and Characters    

Stories and drama help students make sense of their own behavior and that of others,  and to develop aspects of emotional intelligence, such as empathy. They also provide  opportunities to use different combinations of students’ multiple intelligences (linguistic,  visual-spatial, musical, kinesthetic, logical-deductive, interpersonal, intrapersonal,  naturalist) as “entry points” to learning. Exploring characters within a story offers a  framework for developing social skills such as cooperation, collaboration, listening, and  turn taking and helps to create appropriate affective conditions for learning to take place.  13 

“Educational approaches from the expressive stance recommend creative activities and  peer dialogues that support rich explorations of fictional characters’ inner lives and  connections to children’s own feelings and experiences.”14
When students explore  characters’ feelings, it helps students build empathy for the characters and helps to  develop that skill for real life. They can extend this to their own feelings, seeing  themselves in what the characters are doing and thinking. Combined with a dialogic  approach, through discussion about the characters, character exploration can result in students wanting to read and learn more as well as to express themselves in the process.  

Students also develop social awareness as the characters come alive through discussion.  They learn how others live their lives and make sense of the world they live in. The stories  can introduce new worlds and encourage new ideas. Developing a deeper understanding  of others supports acceptance and appreciation of differences. The characters often deliver messages, whether in fiction or non-fiction, which can be applied to real life. 

Reviewing and reflecting on how characters change within a text is an important literacy  skill. As students become older, the texts and characters they experience become  increasingly complex. It is the characters (or narrators) who are telling the story.  Implementing an approach that encourages students to analyze the characters within  the story is fundamental for reading comprehension. 

Augmented Reality and Reading Comprehension  

Augmented reality (AR) is a process introduced in the early 1990s that enhances the real  world by implementing computer-generated information (images, graphics, etc.) on top  of it. One AR process is called image targeting, where the AR animated image is  superimposed over the targeted graphic placing the AR into the real world. This can be seen in book covers, signage, and other applications.15 The experience for the user is  engaging and more immersive and often acts as a catalyst for greater interest in the text  and improved comprehension of the information.  

A recent study reviewing whether conversational agents, such as a robot or other  speaker-based tools, have the same impact as using dialogic reading with an educator,  cited interesting results. “A conversational agent can replicate the benefits of dialogic  reading with a human partner by enhancing children's narrative‐relevant vocalizations,  reducing irrelevant vocalizations, and improving story comprehension.16 This application  could also be true when using an AR generated character as the agent.

The use of a digital application within a printed book may bring together the best of two  worlds; the high interest in technological applications with the continued need to use  books in print. Reading printed books yields better reading comprehension than reading  digital books.17 Using only digital platforms for reading may not support deep  comprehension and learning. The goal is to assist students in becoming more familiar in  using digital tools while providing a greater opportunity for interaction with the text  (building from a dialogic approach). This is where the AR infused process can come into  place. 

Although the use of AR in reading education is relatively new, the early results are  promising. One recent study of AR in printed books stated “The findings obtained from  the quantitative dimension of the study revealed that there was a significant difference  between scores of the experimental and control groups in reading comprehension,  attitude towards reading, reading motivation and class participation, in favour of the  experimental group,” 18 The study results also demonstrated that the AR contributed to  improved critical thinking, academic and social language skills creating a higher interest  in learning all around.

Application of Research to Practice Using Augmented Reality in Reading

Recent research on the impact of augmented reality demonstrates it can be a valuable learning tool to support skill development in many areas of reading, especially for  reluctant readers. “With Augmented reality (AR), one can overlay images, videos, and  sounds onto an existing environment (such as a book) to “augment” a real-world  scenario.” 18 

The most effective approach appears to be one that combines the use of dialogic reading  with AR to increase reading comprehension. Such a program would provide context for  the reader and support vocabulary development leading to improved retention,  comprehension, and test scores. This section of the paper explores how LP Bookspace incorporates this research in a practical format that can be easily implemented in  the classroom and beyond. 

The AR within LP Bookspace is easy to use. The educators or users download the LP Bookspace app on a  smartphone or tablet. They select a book to read. Next, the users hover the device over  the cover of the book and the initial AR experience will pop up. The users then continue to  read until they get to the next popup illustration in the story and hover the device over  that page for the next AR experience. The number of popups and illustrations depends on  the book. Some of the picture style books have popups on each page while others, to  encourage reading of more text, spread the illustrations out over the chapters.

LP Bookspace applies research on storytelling and dialogic reading by using the popup characters  (the AR) to share the stories with the readers. Each popup explains concepts and  vocabulary and asks questions to engage the readers with the story. The readers reflect  on what was read and check for understanding. There are also natural stops within  chapters to give the readers opportunity for breaks in reading, making the text less  overwhelming for reluctant readers, leading to improved engagement with the book. The  goal is to augment the students’ perception of what they are reading. This enhances their comprehension by making abstract concepts more tangible, easier to understand and  more engaging, which improves learning and retention. The use of AR offers opportunities for discussions about the text, the characters and application in real life supporting the development of social language and vocabulary. 

Assessing how students are progressing is an important aspect of all learning. LP Bookspace includes a quality tracking and assessment program with the necessary information to  evaluate students’ progress and skill development. It enables educators to adapt  instruction and focus on skills not yet learned. LP Bookspace’s online dashboard is a secure portal  that collects student responses and tracks their progress and engagement. It tracks engagement, time on task, and responses to questions. The assessment on the  dashboard is completed in real time while the students are engaging with the book. Real time feedback is invaluable since educators can immediately encourage and support  students in the moment ensuring the feedback is meaningful and relevant. In addition to  tracking individual students the dashboard helps educators create a classroom view  enabling them to group students for extra activities and intervention.

LP Bookspace also includes curricula guides to accompany each book. These guides offer ideas for  expanding the learning beyond reading the story and implementing the AR. The guides  include vocabulary lists, learning activities for each book chapter, prompts for whole  group and small group discussions, expansion lessons to extend learning, and materials  lists. The lessons go beyond reading comprehension activities to cover additional skills  such as social-emotional development, cognitive thinking, creativity, collaboration and  more. The scripts for the popup questions are also available to assist the educators in  lesson planning and student support. The curricula guides minimize planning time for the  educator making it easy to incorporate LP Bookspace into scheduled reading times. 

A bonus of LP Bookspace is an option for educators and librarians to conduct a “meet the maker”  session demonstrating how the AR is created. This option is both inspirational and  aspirational for students. In a “virtual field trip” students meet with animators, graphic  designers, our founders, and our writers, providing a unique behind the scenes view.  Students will explore the science behind the AR, how the books are planned and  formatted, how features from the book are chosen, etc. They will learn about potential  careers in publishing, graphic design, writing, educational programming, and technology.

Case Study

Augmented reality through LP Bookspace is being introduced in literacy groups in  several classrooms throughout the United States. They are in varying stages of  implementation. One location is Ms. Olivia Boyer’s fourth grade classroom at Holloman  Elementary School in Alamogordo Public Schools in New Mexico. The students received  pre and post assessments as well as end of year surveys to measure the impact of reading  using augmented reality with LP Bookspace.  

There were twenty-four students in the program participating in literacy groups as part of  their reading intervention. Ms. Boyer worked with the students once per week in groups  of six in one-hour blocks. The program ran for 90 days in March-May 2023. The pre and  post assessment tool used was Istation, a software program measuring phonemic  awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency. The books used in the LP Bookspace  program included My Father’s Dragon and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Families from 10  of the students allowed the release of the data. 7 of the 10 students showed significant  percent increases in the reading comprehension section of the Istation assessment and 6  children were able to move up a level: 











































3 to 4


3 to 4


1 to 4


3 to 4


3 to 5


At Level 2


4 to 5


At Level 2


At Level 2


5 to 4

Ms. Boyer also conducted a post survey of students’ opinions in using LPB. The students  were asked to answer one question and provide additional feedback. The results of the  survey are: 

Does reading a books with popup characters help you better understand  what you are reading?

Screenshot 2023-06-19 at 13.00.22.png

Sample of qualitative student responses were: 

• It helped me remember what the story was about. 

• I liked that it would ask you questions. 

• I liked it a lot because the characters talk to me and ask me things to help me  understand and to see if I understand. 

• I like that the characters pop out of the book and that it gives me questions to  answer it helps on my comprehension 

Most students appreciated the use of the characters to connect with the story and  asking for responses from the readers.

Ms. Boyer implemented the program through small group instruction due to the limited  access to technology for all students and their age level. She used her smart phone and  projected the LPB AR on a flat screen monitor. She stated this was a great solution since the students not only interacted with the AR, but they also interacted with each other by  supporting the use of the AR and discussing the answers to the questions. 

Parents were given an overview of AR with LP Bookspace demonstrating how it is used along with the titles of the books. This helped to expand the learning with a school to home  connection. The parents’ responses were very positive and expressed no concerns about using augmented reality in this manner. 

Ms. Boyer reported that the use of the AR in LP Bookspace is a great solution to transitioning young  students from picture books to chapter books. The AR helps students maintain an  interest in the stories, reduces frustration by breaking up the stories in an authentic  manner, and provides opportunities for discussion resulting in improved reading  comprehension and vocabulary development.

Olvia Boyer noted, “The kids were just absorbed. They thought it was the coolest thing  ever. And as a teacher, it was really cool to see data showing that we were having an  increase in comprehension.” The case study demonstrates the applied research of using  augmented reality as a conversational agent and how an educator may adapt the process to meet the needs of the individual students. 


Considerable progress has been made in applying innovative technology to current  educational problems. One such approach builds on what we know works in reading  instruction such as using a dialogic approach and combining it with augmented reality to  further engage students. LP Bookspace meets the criteria listed in at the beginning of  this paper on the optimal approach to reading intervention by providing: 

• Opportunities for collaborative environments recognizing reading as a social  activity. 

o LP Bookspace includes breaks using the AR to explore the text and acts as a catalyst  for building language skills and engaging proactively in discussions. 

• Relevant reading texts and activities to engage students. 

o LP Bookspace brings fresh perspective through the AR bringing the characters to life and lesson guides to engage the reader and helping make connections to  the real world. 

• Tools to measure and support students’ progress in vocabulary, comprehension, and other literacy skills. 

o The LP Bookspace dashboard provides educators with real-time progress reports  allowing them to give immediate and relevant feedback at the exact time  when students need it. 

• Confidence building for student success. 

o LP Bookspace supports even the most reluctant reader by creating a more engaging  reading experience thus building confidence as the learner moves forward. 

The LP Bookspace experience encourages a new generation of strong readers. “This is the  first 21st century tool I’ve seen that can affect change.” Barbara Freeman, Former  Executive Superintendent New York City Schools


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