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Professor Natalia Kucirkova

Profile summary

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Professional biography

Natalia Kucirkova is Professor of Early Childhood Education and Development at the University of Stavanger, Norway and Professor of Reading and Children’s Development at The Open University, UK. Natalia’s work is concerned with social justice in children’s literacy and use of technologies. She is the founder of the International Collective of Children’s Digital Books that connects research and design in children’s e-books and literacy apps and Chair of the Children’s Digital Book Award that is the first award judged entirely by teachers. Her research takes place collaboratively across academia, commercial and third sectors.

Research interests

Keywords: Early literacy, digital literacy, personalisation, shared book reading

Topics: iPads/tablets and mobile technologies in schools

Digital books and apps and their impact on children's early literacy and learning

Personalised education in early and primary education

Cross-generational digital literacy community projects

Teaching interests

Natalia teaches the following Modules:

  • MOOC - Childhood in the digital age
  • E102 Introduction to childhood studies and child psychology
  • E219- Psychology of childhood and youth
  • EK313- Issues with children and young people

Impact and engagement

  • School governor of a local school
  • Chief Book Editor Journal of Early Childhood Literacy
  • Chair and Organisor of UKLA/Book Trust Best Children's Digital Book Award
  • RSA Fellow
  • Oxford Education Committee (Core member)
  • Reading Agency (Advisory Group Member)

External collaborations

Natalia is part of the Jacobs Research Fellows Network:

Natalia co-leads the Centre for Research in Early Childhood Education and Care in Stavanger, Norway


Funds of courage: advancing social justice in children’s reading for pleasure (2024-07-05)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Cremin, Teresa
Cambridge Journal of Education ((Early access))

Parents’ ontological beliefs regarding the use of conversational agents at home: resisting the neoliberal discourse (2024)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Hiniker, Alexis
Learning, Media and Technology, 49(2) (pp. 290-305)

Advancing the understanding of children’s digital engagement: responsive methodologies and ethical considerations in psychological research (2024)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Livingstone, Sonia and Radesky, Jenny
Frontiers in Psychology, 15, Article 1285302

Multisensory Reading in Early Childhood: Systematic Review with Theoretical Guidance for Human Development Studies (2023-12)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Rodriguez-Leon, Lucy
Human Development, 67(4) (pp. 193-210)

Olfactoscapes in Malawi: Exploring the smells children like and are exposed to in semi-urban classrooms (2023-11-13)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Mwenda Chinula, Neema
Childhood: A journal of global child research, 30(4) (pp. 451-470)

Beyond Personalization: Embracing Democratic Learning Within Artificially Intelligent Systems (2023-11-09)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Leaton Gray, Sandra
Educational Theory, 73(4) (pp. 469-489)

Digital Edible Literacies: Ephemeral and Highly Affective (2023-10-10)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Reading Research Quarterly, 58 (pp. 495-504)

Applying the science of learning to EdTech evidence evaluations using the EdTech Evidence Evaluation Routine (EVER) (2023-09-06)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Brod, Garvin and Gaab, Nadine
npj Science of Learning, 8, Article 35

Debate: Response to “Should academics collaborate with digital companies to improve young people's mental health” (2023-05)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 28(2) (pp. 336-337)

Agency in Educational Technology: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Implications for Learning Design (2023-03)
Brod, Garvin; Kucirkova, Natalia; Shepherd, Joshua; Jolles, Dietsje and Molenaar, Inge
Educational Psychology Review, 35, Article 25(1)

Commentary on Highly Successful Female Educational Psychologists: Equity and Intersectionality in Success Definitions (2023-01)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Educational Psychology Review, 35(7)

Faulty screen time measures hamper national policies: here is a way to address it (2023)
Kucirkova, Natalia I.; Livingstone, Sonia and Radesky, Jenny S.
Frontiers in Psychology, 14, Article 1243396

Rethinking Agency in Literacies: Malawian children’s and teachers’ perspectives (2023)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Rodriguez Leon, Lucy and Chinula, Neema Mwenda
International Journal of Early Years Education ((Early access))

Tracing the smells of childhoods with an olfactory research inquiry (2023)
Ingebretsen Kucirkova, Natalia
Qualitative Research ((Early access))

Children’s multisensory experiences in museums: how olfaction interacts with color (2023)
Kucirkova, Natalia I. and Speed, Laura J.
Frontiers in Education, 8, Article 1242708

Living with digital materialisations of self (2022-08-30)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Rowsell, Jennifer
Learning, Media and Technology, 47(3) (pp. 305-309)

The explanatory power of sensory reading for early childhood research: The role of hidden senses (2022)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood ((Early access))

A Comparison of Children’s Reading on Paper Versus Screen: A Meta-Analysis (2021-08-01)
Review of Educational Research, 91(4) (pp. 483-517)

Socio-material directions for developing empirical research on children’s e-reading: A systematic review and thematic synthesis of the literature across disciplines (2021-03-01)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 21(1) (pp. 148-174)

Designing personalised instruction: A research and design framework (2021)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Gerard, Libby and Linn, Marcia C.
British Journal of Educational Technology, 52(5) (pp. 1839-1861)

Digital literacies and children’s personalized books: Locating the 'self' (2020)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Mackey, Margaret
London Review of Education, 18(2) (pp. 151-162)

The Distance between the 'Self' and the 'Other' in Children's Digital Books (2020)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Littleton, Karen
Frontiers in Psychology, 11, Article 589281

Children’s reading with digital books: past moving quickly to the future (2019-12-01)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Child Development Perspectives, 13(4) (pp. 208-214)

Children’s agency by design: Design parameters for personalization in story-making apps (2019-09)
Kucirkova, Natalia
International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 21 (pp. 112-120)

‘It Brings it all Back, all those Good Times; it Makes Me Go Close to Tears’. Creating Digital Personalised Stories with People who have Dementia (2019-04-01)
Critten, Valerie and Kucirkova, Natalia
Dementia, 18(3) (pp. 864-881)

How Could Children’s Storybooks Promote Empathy? A Conceptual Framework Based on Developmental Psychology and Literary Theory (2019)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Frontiers in Psychology, 10, Article 121

Evaluating the effectiveness of an educational programming intervention on children’s mathematics skills, spatial awareness and working memory (2018-11)
Messer, David; Thomas, Lucy; Holliman, Andrew and Kucirkova, Natalia
Education and Information Technologies, 23(6) (pp. 2879-2888)

The influence of children’s gender and age on children’s use of digital media at home (2018-04-10)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Littleton, Karen and Kyparissiadis, Antonios
British Journal of Educational Technology, 49(3) (pp. 545-559)

Storytelling and story-acting: co-construction in action (2018-03-01)
Cremin, Teresa; Flewitt, Rosie; Swann, Joan; Faulkner, Dorothy and Kucirkova, Natalia
Journal of Early Childhood Research, 16(1) (pp. 3-17)

Dimensions of personalisation in technology-enhanced learning: a framework and implications for design (2018-01-10)
FitzGerald, Elizabeth; Kucirkova, Natalia; Jones, Ann; Cross, Simon; Ferguson, Rebecca; Herodotou, Christothea; Hillaire, Garron and Scanlon, Eileen
British Journal of Educational Technology, 49(1) (pp. 165-181)

Personalised reading for pleasure with digital libraries: Towards a pedagogy of practice and design (2018)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Cremin, Teresa
Cambridge Journal of Education, 48(5) (pp. 571-589)

A literature synthesis of personalised technology-enhanced learning: what works and why (2018)
FitzGerald, Elizabeth; Jones, Ann; Kucirkova, Natalia and Scanlon, Eileen
Research in Learning Technology, 26, Article 2095

Digital learning hubs: theoretical and practical ideas for innovating massive open online courses (2017)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Littleton, Karen
Learning, Media and Technology, 42(3) (pp. 324-330)

Young children’s reading for pleasure with digital books: six key facets of engagement (2017)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Littleton, Karen and Cremin, Teresa
Cambridge Journal of Education, 47(1) (pp. 67-84)

Developing personalised education for personal mobile technologies with the pluralisation agenda (2017)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Littleton, Karen
Oxford Review of Education, 43(3) (pp. 276-288)

Digital Personal Stories: A Case Study of Two African Adolescents, with Severe Learning and Communication Disabilities (2016)
Critten, Val and Kucirkova, Natalia
Journal of childhood and developmental disorders, 1, Article 7(1)

A Vygotskian perspective on parent-child talk during iPad story sharing (2015-11-30)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Sheehy, Kieron and Messer, David
Journal of Research in Reading, 38(4) (pp. 428-441)

Child-Father creative text-making at home with crayons, iPad, collage & PC (2015-09)
Kucirkova, N. and Sakr, M.
Thinking Skills and Creativity, 17 (pp. 59-73)

Book Review: The thinking teacher (2015-06-10)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy, 41(4) (pp. 451-452)

Story-Making with iPad Apps: Baking Stories in the 21st Century (2015-03)
Kucirkova, Natalia

Story-making on the iPad when children have complex needs: two case studies (2014-11)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Messer, David; Critten, Val and Harwood, Jane
Communication Disorders Quarterly, 36(1) (pp. 44-54)

The effects of personalization on young children's spontaneous speech during shared book reading (2014-09)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Messer, David and Sheehy, Kieron
Journal of Pragmatics, 71 (pp. 45-55)

iPads in early years, separating assumptions and evidence (2014-07-07)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Frontiers in Psychology, 5, Article 715

Spot the Dog; with iPads: spot the difference! (2014-07)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Willans, Deb and Cremin, Teresa
English 4-11, 51 (pp. 11-14)

Reading personalized books with preschool children enhances their word acquisition (2014-06)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Messer, David and Sheehy, Kieron
First Language, 34(3) (pp. 227-243)

Personalization in mother-child emotion talk across three contexts (2014-03)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Tompkins, Virginia
Infant and Child Development, 23(2) (pp. 153-169)

Children's engagement with educational iPad apps: insights from a Spanish classroom (2014-02-28)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Messer, David; Sheehy, Kieron and Fernandez-Panadero, Carmen
Computers & Education, 71 (pp. 175-184)

iPads in early years and foundation classrooms (2014-01)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Teach Nursery, 5(1)

Touching the virtual, touching the real: iPads and enabling literacy for students with learning disabilities. (2014)
Flewitt, Rosie; Kucirkova, Natalia and Messer, David
Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 37(2) (pp. 107-116)

How can iPad apps enrich psychology research? (2014)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Psychology Teaching Review, 20(2) (pp. 121-125)

Children interacting with books on iPads: research chapters still to be written (2013-12-24)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Frontiers in Psychology, 4, Article 995

Sharing personalized stories on iPads: a close look at one parent-child interaction (2013-11)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Messer, David; Sheehy, Kieron and Flewitt, Rosie
Literacy, 47(3) (pp. 115-122)

iPads in early education (2013-01)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Early Years Educator, 14(9) (pp. 24-26)

Parents reading with their toddlers: the role of personalisation in book engagement (2012)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Messer, David and Whitelock, Denise
Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 13(4) (pp. 445-470)

Sharing personalised books: a practical solution to the challenges posed by home book reading interventions (2010-09)
Literacy Information & Computer Education Journal, 1(3) (pp. 263-272)

Reading Teachers: Nurturing Reading for Pleasure (2023)
Cremin, Teresa; Hendry, Helen; Rodriguez-Leon, Lucy and Kucirkova, Natalia
ISBN : 9781032105024 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

The Future of the Self: Understanding Personalization in Childhood and Beyond (2021-02-01)
Kucirkova, Natalia
ISBN : 978-1-80043-945-0 | Publisher : Emerald Books

Children Reading for Pleasure in the Digital Age: Mapping Reader Engagement (2020-07)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Cremin, Teresa
ISBN : 9781526436627 | Publisher : SAGE

How and Why to Read and Create Children's Digital books: A Guide for Primary Practitioners (2018-12-03)
Kucirkova, Natalia
ISBN : 9781787353473 | Publisher : UCL Press

iPads and Tablets in the Classroom: Personalising Children’s Stories (2014)
Kucirkova, Natalia
ISBN : 978-1-897638-90-3 | Publisher : UKLA | Published : Leicester

Reflecting on my reader identity (2023)
Kucirkova, Natalia
In: Cremin, Teresa; Hendry, Helen; Rodriguez-Leon, Lucy and Kucirkova, Natalia eds. Reading Teachers: Nurturing Reading for Pleasure (pp. 13-15)
ISBN : 9781003215615 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

Conclusion : Reading Teachers of tomorrow (2023)
Cremin, Teresa; Hendry, Helen; Rodriguez-Leon, Lucy and Kucirkova, Natalia
In: Cremin, Teresa; Hendry, Helen; Rodriguez-Leon, Lucy and Kucirkova, Natalia eds. Reading Teachers (pp. 193-197)
ISBN : 9781003215615 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Digital books enriching children's literacy lives (2023)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Lungenmuss-Ward, Nigel and Mansfield-Neimi, Nicola
In: Cremin, Teresa; Hendry, Helen; Rodriguez-Leon, Lucy and Kucirkova, Natalia eds. Reading Teachers: Nurturing Reading for Pleasure (pp. 35-44)
ISBN : 9781003215615 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

Investigating the effectiveness of the Our Story App to increase children’s narrative skills: Lessons learnt from one English preschool classroom (2019-05-06)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Messer, David J. and Sheehy, Kieron
In: Veneziano, Edy and Nicolopoulou, Ageliki eds. Narrative, Literacy and Other Skills: Studies in intervention. Studies in Narrative (25) (pp. 265-281)
ISBN : 9789027262912 | Publisher : John Benjamins

Digital and new technologies: Research tools and questions (2016-06-03)
Messer, David and Kucirkova, Natalia
In: Prior, Jess and Van Herwegen, Jo eds. Practical Research with Children (pp. 264-284)
ISBN : 9781138937888 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Deti ako autori vlastnych kniziek na ipadoch: Hl'Adanie strednej cesty(Children as authors of their own iPad books: searching for a balance (2012)
Kucirkova, Natalia; Messer, David and Sheehy, Kieron
In: Miňová, Monika ed. Predprimárne vzdelávanie v súčasnosti (pp. 285-298)
ISBN : 978-80-555-0703-3 | Publisher : Presovska univerzita v Presove, Pedagogic fakulta. Slovensky vybor Svetovej organizacie pre predskolsku vychovu | Published : Presove, Slovakia

Our Story - Eine App zur Herstellung von Bilderund Geschichtenbüchern [Our Story - an app for creating digital picture books] (2012)
Kucirkova, Natalia
In: Brinkmann, Erika and Valtin, Renate eds. Lesen- und Schreibenlernen mit digitalen Medien [Reading and writing learning with digital media] (pp. 92-101)
ISBN : 978-3-9809663-4-4 | Publisher : Deutsche Gesellschaft für Lesen und Schreiben | Published : Berlin

Digital Personalized Learning: Conceptualization, Operationalization and Impact (2021-08-25)
Kucirkova, Natalia
In : The 19th Biennial EARLI Conference (23.08.2021-27.08.2021, Online)

A Comparison of Children’s Reading on Paper versus Screen: A Meta-analysis conference presentation (2021-07-16)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Bus, Adriana
In : Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, Annual Meeting (13-16 Jul 2021, Online)

Reciprocal reading for pleasure in online and offline reading communities (2021)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Cremin, Teresa
In : UKLA International Conference (2-4 Jul 2021, Online)

Peering out the children’s literature window into children’s engagement with multimedia texts (2021)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Cremin, Teresa
In : International Society for the Empirical Study of Literature International Conference (23-26 Jun 2021, Online)

Towards truly transformative technology-enhanced education (2015-06-09)
Kucirkova, Natalia
In : Using Technology in Education (09 Jun 2015, London) (pp. 75-77)

Parents' and Childrens' Engagement When Sharing Personalised Books (2011-01-05)
Kucirkova, Natalia
mres thesis The Open University

The Educational Power—and the Limits—of Personalized Children’s Books (2021-09-21)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Scientific American

The Digitized and Quantified "You": Where Is Our Agency? (2021-05-21)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Psychology Today

What is next for children who grew up with the personalisation revolution? (2021)
Kucirkova, Natalia
London School of Economics (LSE)

Why Fathers Who Read to Their Children Are the Coolest (2020-12-17)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Psychology Today

Next Time We Zoom, Show Me Your Hands (2020-09-09)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Psychology Today

A Time Without Touch Is an Opportunity to Rethink Its Place (2020-07)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Psychology Today

The silver lining in corona times: video-call shared reading with children (2020-06-03)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Hoel, Trude
London School of Economics (LSE)

And a Selfie Must Follow, as the Night the Day (2020-05-14)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Psychology Today

Digital Shadows Remain Even if You Can't See Them (2020)
Kucirkova, Natalia
Psychology Today

How can digital library systems help teachers support-children's reading for pleasure (2017-10-09)
Kucirkova, Natalia and Cremin, Teresa
IOE London Blog, UCL, London.

Evaluation Report of MakeBelieve Arts Helicopter Technique of Storytelling and Storyacting (2013-07-14)
Cremin, Teresa; Swann, Joan; Flewitt, Rosie; Faulkner, Dorothy and Kucirkova, Natalia
MakeBelieveArts/The Open University