There is quite a lot of debate regarding the use of e-readers with children. Some argue that using technology to engage kids in reading is a great technique to promote literacy in a population that is drawn to electronics. Others counter that technology provides more distractions from reading than it is worth.
I can see both sides of the debate in my own home. It’s amazing to be able to “pack” an entire series in my 9 year-old daughter’s carry-on – and to watch her run through 10 books in the space of a week-long vacation. It’s also annoying to find that my first grader is, yet again, letting the “Read to Me” feature narrate easy-reader books that she is more than capable of reading to herself. Borrowing books has never been easier than it is with the library’s e-book collection – but there is no substitute for wandering through the stacks, chatting with the children’s librarian, and paging through picture books together on the rug.
There are ups and downs to the use of e-readers with kids – but there is one spectacularly helpful function you should be aware of – the adjustable font/line spacing/margins feature!
For children transitioning from early readers into illustrated chapter books, or from illustrated to text-only books, the change in number of words per page and amount of white space per page can be daunting. Some kids look at a page packed with text and don’t even bother to try reading – it’s just too intimidating. E-readers make it incredibly easy to overcome this obstacle!
Take for example this page from a The Rescue Princesses #11: The Rainbow Opal. Here is a shot of the book on my daughter’s nook, set at the “publisher’s standard” text size, line spacing, and margins.
Even though this page is a chapter start and has an illustration, it still contains over 90 words – pretty intimidating to a reader used to pages like this:
However, I can make a few adjustments using the easy menu at the bottom and the same book looks like this:
There are about 30 words on the page now, the space between lines is bigger, and there is more white space around the edges of the page. This is a page that a 6 or 7 year old is much more ready to tackle!
As the reader gets used to the longer sentences, more complex vocabulary, and fewer illustrations of chapter books, it is simple to gradually decrease the font size and margins. Virtually any book can be adjusted to a visual display that is comfortable for your unique reader!
I’d love to hear your experience with children and e-readers, or with their transition from early readers to chapter books. For more on the subject, check out this guest post on Transitioning to Chapter Books from earlier this year. To choose a great series for your reader, check out Hook Them With a Series.