News and Headlines


E-readers can improve student reading experience

Posted at 11:30 AM, Mar 15, 2016

E-readers can have a positive impact on school age children of all grades and ability. Whether your student is already an avid reader or resists reading like the plague, e-readers can change their experience with text and stories in meaningful ways.

For successful readers:

  • E-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle for Kids Bundle give heavy readers the ability to hold thousands of titles in one, easy to carry e-reader. Students who already love reading never have to worry about which book to choose. Whether it’s an adventure story, a science-fiction tale or even a graphic novel, young readers can change what they read as often as they change their minds.

  • A Kindle e-reader lets young readers can use X-Ray to dig deeper into various elements of a book. With a few touches, students can study a book’s author, get information about a book’s setting or time in history or find critical analysis of the book.

For struggling readers:

Kansas State University education professor Lotta Larson works with classroom teachers and teachers-in-training on how to use e-readers to help readers of all abilities. Over the years, she’s seen the device’s tools benefit students who are behind their peers in graded reading levels.

“The ability to differentiate how students see and experience the text often makes the experience easier for struggling readers,” Larson explained. “There are a variety of ways students can manipulate the text, the page and the experience with an e-reader that can’t be done with traditional books.”

These differentiations include:

  • Font size: Larson says for some students the simple act of making the text font larger makes the reading experience not only easier, but more enjoyable.  “Some students get intimidated when they have a larger book with small text,” she said. “With an e-reader, kids can make the text much larger and focus on one page at a time or even just a few sentences at a time. It’s not so overwhelming for them when they make these changes.”

  • Students can use the e-reader’s dictionary function to help with words they don’t know. “Instead of having to use a large dictionary every time they don’t know a word, the student can simply touch the word in question and get an immediate definition,” Larson explained. “Many students would just skip looking it up if it means using a regular dictionary. Now, they can get the help they need quickly and without getting pulled out of the story.” Built-in features on Kindle e-readers like Word Wise keep readers in the actual story while providing simple definitions right above the questioned word so that they can see the words in context and take on more challenging books. Vocabulary Builder compiles words you look up in the dictionary into a list for easy access, which readers can then use to quiz themselves using flashcards until they’ve mastered them.

  • Many e-readers have the ability to change languages when it comes to dictionaries or actual text. For English Language Learners, this can help when they struggle to understand a word’s definition when read in English. “These ELL students can get the definition in their native language, which gives them a clearer meaning of the word, because sometimes they just don’t understand words in the dictionary,” said Larson.



E-readers eliminate stigma

In addition to differentiation, struggling readers often connect well with e-readers because it helps remove the stigma of their skill limitations.

“There is an element of privacy there that these students haven’t had before,” Larson explained. “Before, if a student was reading an easier chapter book than others, everyone could see it. Now, not only can the e-reader make the reading experience 100 percent personalized, but also maintain the reader’s privacy because no one else can easily see what’s being read. And, the more a student reads, the more improvement they’ll see in their skills.”

E-reader use must be taught to avoid distraction

Some teachers and parents express reservations about using connected devices because they can be a distraction to students. After all, these devices can be connected to the internet, where social media, games and videos are easy temptations to pull readers of all abilities away from the written word.

Amazon designed the Kindle solely as an e-reader, creating a sanctuary for students to lose themselves in a book. Unlike tablets, e-readers won’t distract children with notifications from email, social media or games. The Kindle is built for on-the-go reading: lightweight, a long battery life and a non-glare display that can be easily be seen even in daylight.

Larson said she understands the concern, but a mistake many parents make is simply giving an e-reader to a child without any sort of direction or instruction.

“Parents and teachers need to take the time to show students how to properly use these devices as legitimate teaching tools,” she said. “Many times, kids will simply get an e-reader in their hands and are told to “enjoy”. Adults have to take the time to sit with children to show them how the device works, what special tools or skills are available to use and where to find them.”

Kindle FreeTime opens new worlds and experiences for the child, while still keeping them safe address these potential concerns. With KindleFree:

  • Children can view their reading progress for each book, track reading accomplishments for each day, and earn achievement badges for reaching milestones.

  • Parents can have peace of mind that kids won’t access inappropriate content or websites, or accidentally make purchases as Kindle FreeTime blocks access to browsing and purchasing in the KindleStore, access to the Internet, access to Wikipedia, and disables social sharing.

  • Parents can choose specific books for children in Kindle FreeTime from their existing Kindle library or by purchasing new e-books from the Kindle Store. Selections can be updated at any time and books shared in Kindle FreeTime will be available in the child’s profile on Kindle.

Click here to learn more about Kindle e-readers and eBooks.