Can font-type impact a child’s ability to understand text?
It really can impact a child's ability to understand the text. What I find clinically is that it does depend upon the child though. Some children are drawn into the text because the font is fun and engaging. Other children cannot decode the text because the font is fun and engaging. For example, there is a children’s book, "Why is Blue Dog Blue?" where the font is in interesting positions all over the pages of the book. It is beautiful and lovely. But it occurred to me that I could never read this to a child with language impairment because I need them to learn that font is regular; that words on the page are organized in a certain way. We have to follow that organization every time. I have to teach them that skill explicitly. So if I do use a font that is unorganized and scattered all over the page, then that just blows my rule right out of the water. So for young readers or readers who are having a real difficult time decoding I would say stay away from fun and engaging fonts. I would want it to be ‘Arial’ - an easy font that is predictable because they have enough unpredictability when reading.
Dee M. Lance, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is an associate professor of speech-language pathology at the University of Central Arkansas, where she teaches courses in child language acquisition and disorders. She conducts research in the areas of reading comprehension and phonological processing. Dr. Lance has more than 22 years of experience working with children who have phonological deficits, language disorders, and language-based reading disabilities.