Kids Reading with Kindles

Springtime Butter Lettuce Salad with Herbs
Book Review: Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin

I am a reader.  Let me rephrase that – I am an avid reader.   I read 52 books last year,which added up to almost 19,000 pages.  I LOVE to read.

I am a reader because I grew up in a house of readers – my parents were both English professors, and our house was lined with books.  My parents provided me with books and provided me with the opportunity to read and fostered a culture of reading in our house.  I grew up, married an English major who reads more than almost any adult man I know, and try to foster the same culture of reading for my kids.  We are a family of readers!  Or we would be if my kids would get with the program.

The truth is, kids today have a lot of things to do other than read.  There are so many TV shows that are educational!  (Multiple networks of them!  When I was a kid, I got to watch Sesame Street on Channel B, and that was it).  There are fancy tablets with their fancy apps, and there are sports teams and after school activities and so much homework!  I was an only child  and books were my companions.  My kids have each other, and while I’m glad of that, I wish we could all pipe down and get some reading done.


She's reading!  Look how quiet!

She’s reading! Look how quiet!

Bootsy’s off the hook to some extent, being not quite three, but the Nuni is – if not exactly a reluctant reader, a less-than-eager one.  She’s a good reader, don’t get me wrong.  She’s excelling at reading in both English and Spanish at school, and her comprehension and vocabulary are great.  But she doesn’t have the itch.  She likes to read, but she doesn’t always choose to read. She gets intimidated by thick books with small type and big words.  There’s also the issue that when she does choose to read, she reads really quickly, and finishes books in an hour or so.  We can’t keep up with her, and the (pretty giant) bookshelf in her room is running out of space.


Just one section of her overstuffed bookshelf.


Our solution was to buy her a Kindle.

Even though I love actual book books, I have become an avid Kindle-reader myself.  I can’t resist the lure of instant books, and public library books with no late fees (I’ll do another post on that later), and one-handed reading with a soft backlight.  I love how much it lightens my load when I travel, and the feel of the lovely leather cover I have on my Paperwhite.  But Kindles are also great for kids – you can change the text size and font – no more small text!  You don’t have to be intimidated by large books!  You can easily look up words with the built-in dictionary. And you have all the same bonuses of instant books, easy library books (that are harder to lose!) and easy travel, plus you can restrict unauthorized purchases with simple-to-set-up parental controls. We got the Nuni a Kindle for Christmas two years ago, and it has been a great addition.


Mama and Nuni's matching Kindles

Mama and Nuni’s matching Kindles

Plus, there’s Kindle Free Time.  Available to any Kindle owner, it allows the Kindle-owner (or her parents) to create a library of available books (she doesn’t get access to my Outlander books), set daily goals for reading and track accomplishments.    It’s an easy way to see what your kid is reading without setting intrusive timers.    Kids can only exit free time by entering a parent-chosen password.

We are big fans of the Kindle and Kindle Free Time, so when Amazon asked me to review their additional service, Kindle Free Time Unlimited, for National Reading Month, I thought it would be a great fit for The Domestic Front.  Kindle Free Time is a subscription-based service (only $2.99 a month for Amazon Prime members)  that allows kids to browse and “buy” from a library of nearly 700 books.   There are a ton of books from kids’ favorite characters thanks to licensing deals with Disney and Nickelodeon (including a few Dora Spanish-language books, which we appreciated), as well as some well-loved classics. The Nuni was thrilled to be able to choose whatever book she wanted, unrestricted, and Kindle Free Time solved our problem of keeping up with her reading pace, and she was excited to read.

Of course, if I had my druthers, parents could still choose a subset of books that are available to their kids on Kindle Free Time.  I want her to be reading Island of the Blue Dolphins and Strawberry Girl!  The Nuni is more interested in Kylie Jean, the Cupcake Queen and every Disney fairy book ever written. Experts however, tell me I should back off, and the important thing is that she’s excited about reading.  And I do appreciate that.  She’ll be a reader yet.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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