Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Should You Let Your Kids Read On a Kindle Paperwhite?



The short answer is “yes,” as long as you set some boundaries. 

Why Is Reading Important For Kids?

You already know reading is vital to your child’s academic success, but maybe you’ve never hashed out the specific skills your kids acquire when they read.  Here they are:

  • Reading exercises the brain and trains it to make connections.
  • Reading improves concentration and helps your child learn to sit still and focus longer.
  • Reading opens up the world to your kids and teaches them about things they’ve never personally experienced, and it fosters empathy.
  • Reading improves vocabulary and develops a command of language when writing and speaking.
  • Reading sparks the imagination and creativity.
  • Reading helps kids do better in school across all subject areas.

As an added bonus, reading is just plain fun!  Getting lost in an adventure or being thrilled from suspense is one of life’s greatest pleasures and escapes.  

The Problem With Reading a Screen

There is some research to suggest kids comprehend and retain information better when it is presented in print.  Likewise, taking notes on paper rather than a laptop or tablet boosts your child’s ability to commit what they read to memory. 
Well-meaning teachers often provide links to reading websites and apps to take advantage of a child’s fascination with screen to improve their reading abilities.  For example PBS Kids, Starfall, and Razz Kids are just a few engaging sites filled with interactive games and activities to develop literacy skills.  The problem is reading on a computer allows for excessive eye skimming and too much distraction from pop ups and lighting effects that impede comprehension and retention—even for adults.  The Kindle Paperwhite, however, offers the best of both worlds.

5 Benefits of a Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader

1.     Even Reluctant Readers Want to Read On a Cool Device. 

Pediatricians recommend two hours or less each day of screen time.  Should reading on a Kindle count towards the two hour quota?  No—unlike inordinate amounts of other media, such as TV, video games, computers, smartphones, and apps, which can adversely affect the brain  as well as  lead to obesity, sleep problems, behavioral issues, and lower academic achievement, a Kindle Paperwhite very closely mimics reading print and is every bit as engaging.  We will explore the features that make the Kindle Paperwhite a valuable reading tool in an upcoming section. 

2.     The Absence of Blue Light Emission.  

Blue light is a band of high energy light emitted from LED screens, and it can be harmful to the retina over time.  Even though we receive more blue light from the sun than a device, such exposure is limited to daylight hours.  Blue light from a device can bombard our eyes all hours of the day and night, and this blue light disrupts circadian rhythm, which can lead to mood and sleep disorders and lower performance.  Blue light may also cause premature ageing of the retina, potentially leading to macular degeneration.  Too much close reading of any kind can result in eyestrain and headache, so the Kindle Paperwhite does not increase any risk.

3.     Continuous Reading Opportunities

There are many benefits to visiting your local library; however, once your kids finish their books, you have to make a trip back to the library for more.  With a Kindle Paperwhite, your kids can browse an expansive e-collection online and check out new books with just a few clicks.  When the loan is over, the books automatically return, and you don’t have to worry about overdue fines. 

The Kindle Store on Amazon boasts a full line of free e-books available for download any time.  You can also purchase books from Amazon and have them smoothly transferred to your Kindle Paperwhite.  As an added perk, the Kindle book price is often cheaper than the printed version. 

Books are only ever a click away when you own a Kindle Paperwhite, so they present a unique way to keep your kids motivated to read with sustained momentum.

4.     Great for Germaphobes

You’ve seen some of the odd critters who frequent the library—the nose-pickers, the non-hand washers, the snackers while reading, the coughers and sneezers, the smokers, the readers with bed bugs.  Do you really want your kids handling a book after these dirty birds?  Nothing short of soaking the book in Clorox would appease the germaphobes among us.  The Kindle Paperwhite guarantees the only germs your kids will be in contact with are their own.

5.     Cheaper than Buying Books

If you don’t have time to shuttle kids to the library, and you don’t want to buy more books to gather dust on their already bursting shelves, the Kindle Paperwhite allows them to read until their hearts’ content without spending a dime.  The online portal through your local library has exponentially expanded their offerings of e-books due to the demand, so your kids are privy to multiple copies of even the latest bestsellers.

Kindle Paperwhite Features

The latest Kindle Paperwhite is thinner, waterproof, boasts twice the amount of storage, and has an adjustable built-in light.  Another wonderful option is creating a Family Library through your Kindle, so if you and your kids each have one, you can select which content you want to share with them. If you want to take things a step further, you can subscribe to Amazon FreeTime, which gives kids ages three to twelve access to thousands of content titles.  In addition, you can set reading goals for them and track their progress.  Additional Amazon specifications on the Kindle Paperwhite include the following:
  • The thinnest, lightest Kindle Paperwhite yet—with a flush-front design and 300 ppi glare-free display that reads like real paper even in bright sunlight.
  • Now waterproof, so you’re free to read and relax at the beach, by the pool, or in the bath.
  • Enjoy twice the storage with 8 GB. Or choose 32 GB to hold more magazines, comics, and audiobooks.
  • Now with Audible. Pair with Bluetooth headphones or speakers to listen to your story.
  • A single battery charge lasts weeks, not hours.
  • The built-in adjustable light lets you read indoors and outdoors, day and night.
  • Get instant access to new releases and bestsellers, plus over a million titles at $2.99 or less

Don’t forget to purchase a leather cover for your Kindle Paperwhite—it helps simulate the feel of a genuine leather-bound book.

 (Paid links)

Your Kids Should Still Read Printed Books

When you child is first learning to read, avoid e-readers entirely.  Let them develop a love of books by thumbing through the familiar pages of their favorite stories and delighting in the colorful illustrations.  Introduce a Kindle Paperwhite once they become solid, avid readers, or when they need more motivation to dedicate time to reading—somewhere around age 10.  The Kindle Paperwhite should always complement paper books, not replace them, so set boundaries on how much time your kids can spend on the device versus being immersed in traditional print. 

Investing in a Kindle Paperwhite produces huge dividends in academic performance.  Our fourth grader is the perfect example.  Already a voracious reader, receiving a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas only increased her appetite for reading and improved her Lexile score. Lexile measures help match a student with appropriate reading material for their skill level rather than their age or grade level.  Before receiving her Kindle, our daughter’s Lexile score was 1, 110, which already far exceeded the 630-950 range for fourth grade.  If it seemed her nose was always stuck in a book before, the Kindle nearly robbed us of her completely, and we had to set limits on her reading time!  Her most recent Lexile measurement hit a whopping 1,300, and her teacher is astonished  she is reading on a seventh grade level.  If that isn’t enough reason to justify a Kindle Paperwhite purchase, I don’t know what is. 

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