#RaisingReaders Monday: Using e-readers with newly independent readers

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.

photo 1

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:

From Missy’s Super Duper Deluxe Picture Day from Scholastic

However, I can make a few adjustments using the easy menu at the bottom and the same book looks like this:

photo 2

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.

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6 thoughts on “#RaisingReaders Monday: Using e-readers with newly independent readers

  1. Katey, I can definitely see the benefit in this way that you pointed out, and of course, travelling is easier, for sure, but I will always be an advocate for print material overall. I can’t help it. I understand you need space for books, but there’s nothing like the tactile aspect of them, you can see all your books sitting on a shelf, a child can rummage and pick for themselves, too, and they don’t require batteries…just light to read by. It’s just my preference, but as with all technology, there are some advantages : )

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    • Personally, I’m with you. I have an e-reader – though I resisted for a very long time, even when giving one as a gift – but I much prefer print material for the feel, the mood, and the delight of packing the shelves! I mostly use the nook when I’m heading on a trip – because I don’t have room in my caryon for all the books I want to bring! I think the next generation is much more ambivalent about format – the teens I know are equally happy to use either format, as are my own children.

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      • They’re also the constant exposure to EMFs, which is always a concern of mine : / I feel the most strongly about it with picture books, though. To me, they should be print as much as possible 🙂

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  2. I’m a fan of E-readers. The very feature that you pointed out is why I love them. My girls fly through books on their e-readers like never before. During the winter months we don’t get to the library as often so they come in handy to keep them full of books. During the summer it feels like our e-readers are put up because we do spend our time in the library, nothing like fliping the pages of a book also the library has lots of activities that you don’t get at home with an e-reader.

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    • I think the inly time our ereaders come out in summer is after the sun goes down. My two younger girls run and play as long as they can, but my oldest likes to curl up with her nook in the “crow’s nest ” of our playhouse or inside a tent pitched in the backyard and read outdoors.

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  3. My twins are a perfect case study. They were both offered e-readers (Kindles) by their father. J accepted and loves her. M declined. She prefers paper. If she likes an author well enough, she’s willing to read it on the Kindle, but for the most part, she prefers the weight of a book and the feel of flipping pages. Since my girls were already strong readers by the time J got the Kindle, I’d never given much thought on presentation to younger children who might find dense text intimidating. I do wonder, though, about PDF toddler books. They just make no sense to me at all.

    Thanks for linking with #TwinklyTuesday!

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