With the advent of Internet and technology, youngsters are spending more and more time online and watching TV. Reading seems to be a thing of the past. How can we encourage our kids to read more? One way to do so very effectively is to buy them an ebook reader.
Needless to say that there are so many benefits of having an ebook reader. Here are a few:
- Shed the excessive weight of carrying heavy textbooks in the backpack
- Store so many books and reading materials in one compact device
- Cheaper to buy ebooks than hard copies
- Option to rent e-textbooks
- Ease and time saved from borrowing library books
- Fun and cool to read on an ereader
- Re-cultivate the skill of reading
- Keep the kids entertained with books and multi-media content on long road trips
Which one to get?
The immediate question you may have is which ereader or tablet to choose. I was in the same boat myself as there are so many brands and models of digital readers on the market with different features and prices. Please bear in mind that this post will cover both ereaders and tablets when applicable as some tablets also offer ereading functionality.
I have come up with a list of questions to help you think through during your research and buying process. If you can answer these questions well, then you should have a pretty good idea on which one to buy.
1) What’s the age of your kid?
If your little girl were 3 years old, it would be very different than if she were a teenager. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that you are buying an ereader for your teenage kid. For this age group, you should really consider buying a full-fledged ereader/tablet instead of a leap-frog type of interactive device.
2) How would your kid use the book reader for?
The ereader market has spun from ereading to multi-media consumption over the past few years. When Amazon first introduce Kindle to the market in 2007, it was solely for the purpose of ereading. A lot has changed and evolved since then.
More and more ereaders offer more features such as ereading, viewing and watching TV shows and movies, game-playing, emailing and surfing online. You should keep your mind open for a broader use of the device for your kids assuming they will use it for multi-media consumption besides ereading.
Of course, the primary purpose of buying an e reader would be to help your kid read more and with h/her school work.
3) Display and navigation
It’s probably safe to assume that kids love color and graphic display instead of just plain gray-scale display. Also due to the nature of their content consumption, it’s better to have a color ereader/tablet for better viewing pleasure. All major brands offer a color model device such as Kindle Fire, Nook Color, Nook Tablet, iPad and so on.
Navigation is always a consideration no matter whom you buy the device for. Fortunately, most of the ebook reader brands have user-friendly interface and easy navigating from one menu to another. Also Generation Y have grown up with using computers and mouses. They are more used to using electronic gadgets than their parents.
One of the major differences in ereaders and tablets lies in the display technology. The former uses E Ink Pearl technology whereas tablets deploy IPS (In-Plane Switching technology). E Ink renders crispier text and it is easier on the eyes for reading for hours. If your child uses the device for reading mostly, you should opt to buy a digital reading device such as Kindle.
Display size matters as well. The bigger the display screen, the easier it is on the eyes. On the flip side, the bigger, the heavier and more expensive. Obviously, “heavy” is relative here. Even though an iPad is about 1.5 pounds in weight, it is still super light and compact comparing to carrying a huge textbook.
4) Design and quality
I wouldn’t worry too much about the design of the ereading device unless your daughter cares about the peer pressure at school. Overall, most of the major brands have very simplistic design. I would, however, dig into a bit more on the materials of the device as kids tend to be rough on their gadgets or toys. You want to choose an ereader with good and durable material to last for a while.
Are you planning on purchasing a lot of content from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Apple’s iTunes? Or will you borrow a lot of books from your public library?
If you are a die-hard buyer for Amazon content, then you should consider choosing a Kindle for the sheer ease of getting and storing the content in Amazon Cloud. On the other hand, if you get most of the content from Barnes and Noble either online or via a local store, you should stick with buying a Nook. The same goes with iTunes.
Granted nowadays, there are apps across all content providers where you can own an iPad, but purchase content from Amazon via the Kindle app. So the bottom line is really where you feel more comfortable buying content.
I’d like to point out even though many brands offer e-textbooks via their online stores, Amazon stands head and shoulders above the rest. Not only will you have an impressive selection of textbook content, you can also rent instead of buying when it makes sense to save some money.
Don’t forget that there are so many free ebooks on the Internet as well as in the local public library. Why not take advantage of the free resources? Some of the free ebook sites are:
6) Study aid features
It would be very helpful if the ebook reader is capable of highlighting, note-taking, dictionary and text to speech. Similar to a hard copy text book, your kid would be able to highlight a certain paragraph or text for an important test or annotate with h/her thought or understanding.
Having a dictionary or access to Wikipedia is always handy when it comes to a new vocabulary or drilling deeper into the history of a significant even.
7) How much on-device storage do you need?
Depending on what types of content your kid consumes, it is important to think through this question beforehand. If you teenage boy is fanatic about video-viewing and game playing, you may want to buy an ereader/tablet with good on-device storage so that he will have enough space to storage the multi-media content. Some brands do offer an option for a SD card for storage expansion such as Nook and Sony Readers.
8) Battery life
Does your family travel a lot or taking a lot of road trips? If so, having a long battery life might be critical in selecting a best ereader for your kid. For example, both Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard have a battery life of up to 2 month with wireless off.
9) Share eBooks with other kids or among siblings
Another consideration is that you may want to buy an ereader that allows content sharing/or lending such as Amazon’s lending library. If your daughter is reading The Hunger Games, for example, she and her friend can share the expenses of buying the trilogy and share them.
How much are you willing to spend for a digital ereader? These days, you can get an excellent quality ereader/tablet between $100 to $200 such as Kindle Touch, Kindle Fire, Nook Color and Nook Tablet.
Unless you want to buy a high-end one like an iPad, then you will have to pay $499 for a 16GB model with Wi-Fi. If you choose the 3/4G option, you should prepare to pay more for the device as well as for the 3/4G monthly fee with either AT & T or Verizon.
I’ve compiled a table with a few leading ereader/tablet brands on some of the important features for your comparison. The list is not all-inclusive. If you’d like to read the full review of any given product, just click on the name under “Product” column.
Comparison Table of Best eReaders/Tablets for Kids
|Product||Price (reference only)||eReader or Tablet||Display Size/Technology/Color||Content/Public Library|
|6″/E Ink Pearl/B & W||Amazon/yes|
|Kindle Touch Wi-Fi + 3G
||$99 + $149||ereader||6″/E Ink Pearl/B & W||Amazon/yes|
||$139||ereader||6″/E Ink Pearl/B & W||Amazon/yes|
||$379||ereader||9’7″/E Ink Pearl/B & W||Amazon/yes|
||$499 & up||multi-media tablet||9’7″/IPS/Color||iTunes/yes|
|Nook Simple Touch
|6″/E Ink Pear/B & W||Barnes & Noble/yes|
||$169||ereader||7″/IPS/Color||Barnes & Noble/yes|
||$199||multi-media tablet||7″/IPS/Color||Barnes & Noble/yes|
||$129||ereader||6″/E Ink Pearl/B & W||Sony Store/yes|
|Sony Tablet S
||$399||multi-media tablet||9’4/TruBlack/Color||Sony Store/yes|