Through my research I had learned that allowing a child to listen to a book while he’s reading can help him improve his comprehension.
While looking for books that my 8 year old son would enjoy, AND had audio versions available, I quickly came to a conclusion – this could get expensive and/or complicated.
Our son had decided he wanted to read Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, a book we had been given by a friend when he was born. Looking online, I found LibriVox, a resource of volunteer-read books in the public domain, including Black Beauty. The problem was the text in the book didn’t match the audio because we had been given an abridged version of the book.
LibriVox does provide printable or downloadable versions of the books, including a version that can be uploaded to my Kindle. But that got me thinking – if I was going to let him use my beloved Kindle, there might be a better way to do it.
He’s reading a series of books by Dan Gutman called “My Weird School” which he’s really enjoying. But buying the audio version of each book would get expensive (Book #1, Miss Daisy is Crazy, is $9 on Audible) and finding them at the local library isn’t guaranteed.
Although I had never used the feature, I knew the Kindle could read books with the text-to-speech function. Downloading one of the Weird School books we didn’t already own, I strapped a headset on my son’s head and let him start reading.
It’s certainly not the perfect reading solution, but all things considered it worked really well.
While I found the voice to be a little too robotic for my taste, my son LOVED being read to by the Kindle. Catching him as he stared off in space, I had to remind him that he was supposed to be reading along with the voice, not listening like it was an audiobook.
Starting the Kindle reading is not intuitive, and our son could also benefit from a cursor moving under the words to keep him on track. I would also love parental controls on the Kindle as I am sharing my account with my son and don’t want him a) buying anything without my permission or b) accidentally downloading my “adult literature.”
At this time I have to buy the books (which, truth be told, I’m doing anyway. I just don’t make it to the library as much as I’d like), but I am looking forward to when we can start checking out Kindle books from our local library (according to Amazon this will be sometime in 2011).
So we’re counting this experiment as a success – and I’m considering whether I’m going to need to buy myself a new Kindle!
Does your child use a Kindle?