Can Amazon Kindle Improve Children's Ability To Read?

Kindle can be a wonderful alternative way to reading, especially in comparison to glaring and distracting screens. But does it improve or hamper your child's reading abilities? Let's find out!

By Jasmine Kaur

Can Amazon Kindle Improve Children's Ability To Read?
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

The famous children’s author is right about the importance of reading, and its relationship with learning. But does it matter if you are reading on a screen or paper?

Amazon Kindle revolutionised publishing. It not only allowed readers to conveniently carry multiple books, but also lowered book costs, at least for digital books. In this article, we explore the impact it has on the reading ability of children.

Customisable reading experience

According to numerous accounts by persons with dyslexia and a research paper titled ‘E-Readers Are More Effective than Paper for Some with Dyslexia’ by Matthew H. Schneps et al. in PLoS One in 2013, the ability to customise text on e-readers such as Kindle greatly helps dyslexic people. This feature allows them to change fonts and adjust spacing, to better suit their needs.

Even children without reading disabilities seem to like this feature, which suggests that this customisability adds value to the reading experience on a Kindle. This was pointed out in a brief survey from the research paper titled ‘E-Books And Audiobooks: Extending the Digital Reading Experience’ by Lotta C. Larson, published in The Reading Teacher in 2015.

Appearance of books vs. e-books

Some children fear that being seen reading paper books might invite ridicule or labels such as ‘boring’ and ‘uncool’. On the other hand, e-readers can help, because they look like electronic devices from a distance, such as tablets. Moreover, others can’t tell what they are reading. This can be very encouraging to many readers and, especially those who might be reading below their reading level or feel embarrassed by the books they like.

Another advantage of e-books is that they tend to be less overwhelming because:

  • the book, and hence it’s length, is not physically visible.
  • the text is not small or densely-spaced.
  • difficult words can be easily overcome with an inbuilt dictionary.

These factors can be especially encouraging for struggling readers.

However, the comparatively underwhelming nature of ebooks might be the reason why some students don’t feel the same sense of accomplishment in reading them as they do in reading print books. This lower sense of accomplishment is reported in the paper ‘Kindling: The Amazon e-Reader as an Educational Tool’ by Colin Brezicki from The Phi Delta Kappan in 2011.

Learning through reading

Despite the above benefits, e-readers apparently hinder learning. According to the research paper ‘Metacognitive regulation of text learning: On screen versus on paper’ by R. Ackerman and M. Goldsmith from the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied in 2011, when students attempt to learn from digital text:

  • they tend to be significantly overconfident about their mastery over the material.
  • in cases where they themselves are responsible for allocating their studying time, they tend to allocate lower studying time and tend to underperform in tests. 

This suggests that even in everyday lives, people learn lesser when they depend on digital text, but are overconfident about their learning nonetheless. So, in this way e-readers can hinder reading abilities.

Print or digital?

Can Amazon Kindle Improve Children's Ability To Read?

It doesn't necessarily mean that one medium is the ideal one. Depending upon the ability and preference of the reader along with the circumstances, the ideal medium can differ. For example, if your child wants to read a book that might get her bullied, it might be better for her to read on the Kindle. However, if your child wants to prepare effectively for an upcoming exam, it would be better for her to read in print, provided she doesn’t have a reading disability. So, be sure to have a discussion with your child before you buy that Kindle.

Amazon Kindles available:

Kindle (8th Gen)

Display size: 6"

Memory: 4 GB

Warranty: One year

Backlight: Not available

All-New Kindle (10th Gen)

Display size: 6"

Memory: 4 GB

Warranty: One year

Backlight: Available

All-New Kindle Paperwhite (10th Gen)

Display size: 6"

Memory: 8 GB/ 32 GB

Warranty: One year

Backlight: Available

Kindle Oasis

Display size: 7"

Memory: 8 GB/ 32 GB

Warranty: One year

Backlight: Available

Also read: Reading List For High School Students

*ParentCircle is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.in.

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