Summertime, when school is out, is a fantastic opportunity to get more absorbed in reading, both for fun and to exercise those mental muscles that lead to academic success. One of the best ways to encourage summertime reading is to make it cooler, more fun, and more convenient – and that’s why lots of conscientious parents are now busy shopping for an e-reader to give their out-of-school for summer kids.
The Value of Summer Reading
Especially during the summer months, it is critical that school children continue to read. Otherwise, as multiple research studies confirm, students can stagnate in their reading speed and comprehension. Their hard-earned vocabulary from the previous school year can fade away, and they may also miss out on the opportunity to acquire new, higher-level vocabulary. Worse still, young readers whose reading activity slacks off during the summertime can actually backslide and wind up with weaker reading skills by the end of the summer.
Reading Strengthens Young Minds and Kid Confidence
That’s just when they need to have the strongest possible reading and vocabulary capabilities in order to hit the ground running when the new school year begins. Lose that momentum while away from school and it can set you back significantly, both in terms of your academic performance and in terms of self-confidence. A student who stumbles at the start of the semester can easily lose enthusiasm for learning and the ability to keep up with other classmates whose reading-intensive summer weeks enabled them to accelerate to the front of the class.
Kindle for Kids
Parents who are shopping for an e-reader to keep their children engaged in reading have some help from Amazon and the PTA. Amazon’s Kindle department and the National PTA have entered a partnership to promote child literacy, and Amazon also offers a very cool purchase bundle designed just for kids. For about $99 you can buy a “Kindle for Kids Bundle” that includes the latest Kindle plus 2-years of Square Trade Accident Protection. To safeguard children, FreeTime blocks access to browsing and purchasing in the Kindle store, access to the Internet, and access to Wikipedia, and also disables social sharing.
Kindle for Kids includes no sponsored screensavers, which helps clear it of distractions; a kid-friendly protective cover worth $20; and a feature that lets parents set reading goals and then track their progress. Kids can view their reading progress for each book, track reading accomplishments for each day, and earn achievement badges for reaching milestones. You can stimulate vocabulary with programs that offer hints for understanding more advanced words and let you use digital flashcards. The Kindle is lighter than a paperback book, and holds thousands of titles. Also, more than 11,000 libraries in the United States offer Public Library Books for Kindle through their websites.
Convert an Old Tablet to a Kid’s E-Reader
Another option is to give a child a tablet that can be used as an e-reader. If you have a tablet-style computer, you may want to hand it down to your child or just save some money by buying a pre-owned tablet that will serve as your kid’s e-reader. Just make sure that before you give your child any computer gadget that has been used, you clear it of old files that may not be age appropriate. You can reset a tablet to its original factory settings, and that will usually wipe clean the internal hard drive and remove any apps installed on it. Go to the “Settings” menu on the device and look for the option to “Reset.”
Although each tablet will have its own set of tools and configurations, that will usually do the trick. When in doubt, have a computer techie perform that task for you. If you are purchasing reconditioned or used tablets or e-readers from a third party, consider buying from a reputable business versus an individual – and insist that the business professionally clear off old unnecessary files, to make it “kid-friendly,” while leaving intact the basic operating system and other fundamentals – before finalizing the purchase.
Get a Kid-Grade Protective Case
When buying power tools, do-it-yourselfers look for those that are labeled “contractor grade.” Likewise, before you invest your hard-earned money for an electronic gadget for your child, make sure you also line-up a “kid-grade” case that can handle all the bumps, drops, spills, and other challenges that active children put their items through on a daily basis. Of course you won’t find products labeled “kid-proof,” but the idea is to shop around for a case that can handle the task of keeping up with your kid. That typically calls for water resistance and enough rubberized buffering to handle jolts, which also adding some transparent protection to keep the screen from being cracked or irreversibly smudged or stained.
Parental Controls for Tablets
If you use a Kindle Fire or iPad, those have built-in parental controls, so before passing the device along to your child you can activate the controls. There are also apps you buy for various tablet platforms, and you can shop for those in app stores. Just select those from reputable, major app stores, to ensure that they are reliable and free from risks like spyware or computer bugs. You can also find child-friendly web browsers in the Apple app store or at Google Play.