Ereaders for kids? What are the available models for them? And are they a good idea for kids?

Here is a brief oversight of a few ereaders that would appeal to your kids – I hope.

One of the most noticeable effects that the advent of ereaders has had is the increase in reading among those people who have purchased themselves an ereader – there seems to be something about ereaders that encourages people to go out and find – and read – loads more books than they did before.   Seems to me the same would apply to kids as well.

So, the problem:

Does one go out and buy a serious ereader for one’s kids or are there ereaders that are actually made specifically for kids to read with?

Happily there are a few quite good ereaders being made for young children now, which have the qualities that they need – bright colours, easy navigation, a good supply of ebooks specifically aimed at young children, reasonably tough and generally fun to use.

These are mostly aimed at the age group of between 3 and 7, so everything about them is designed with this age group in mind, and I shall have a look at a few of the available models below.

For older kids, then you might well do best to buy them one of the “standard” ereaders, that are actually  intended for adults to read with, as there is a huge number of children’s ebooks out there, both all the well loved Classics – which tend to be free – as well as new writings that are intended for young readers.

I shall suggest a couple of ereaders that I think would work for younger readers, i.e in the age range 8 to about 10.  Thereafter, I reckon kids should be simply given the same ereaders as their parent use, so they can share ebooks and generally have and use all the various functions that ereaders intended for adults have as standard.

So, for the seriously young ones:

Vtech Animated E-Book System

eReader for Kids

For ages 3 to 7.

 

Vtech – V.Reader Animated E-Book System

Amazon Price: $49.00

Additional book cartridges sold separately costing about $12.

  • 4.3″ color touch screen
  • Plays fully animated stories with story narration, character voices, vivid graphics and exciting music and sounds
  • Includes 3 ways to play: Watch the story, reading games and story dictionary
  • USB port and SD memory card slot for expansion
  • Durable, kid-tough design

LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet

Looks more like a tablet PC and has more functionality in addition to reading.

 

LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet (green)

Amazon Price: $99.99

Games and ebooks for this one cost between $12 and $20 each

  • A broad curriculum that goes beyond school skills
  • A built-in camera and video recorder
  • Skill levels that automatically adjust to each child’s pace
  • 100+ games and activities (works with all Leapster Explorer games and apps)

Appropriate for children ages 4 to 9 years

The Vtech InnoTab

Interactive Learning Tablet

Available September 15, 2011.

Vtech – InnoTab Interactive Learning Tablet

Amazon Price: $79.97

Games and ebooks for this one will cost in the range $12 to $ 50.

Won’t be available until some time in September 2011.

  • 5″ color touch screen and tilt-sensor for educational gameplay
  • E-books, educational games, creative activities, learning apps and more available on cartridge or as downloads from VTech learning lodge navigator website
  • 4 different media players e-book reader, MP3 music player, photo viewer and video player
  • 64MB onboard memory and SD card slot for memory expansion
  • Learning toy connects to PC/Mac with included USB cable

So, there are a few ereading devices that would appeal to most very young kids I think,

Now for the older ones.

For kids in the age range 8 to about 10 those ereaders would obviously be a mistake, as everything about them is aimed at the very young, and any self-respecting 9 year old would turn their nose up at such a “kiddie” gadget I am sure.

So for this age group, we would need something that can offer not only colour and a high degree of interactivity, but also look – and be – a real ereader, so the kid can happily show it off to his or her friends at school, and feel sure that it will be seen as a serious device….. But still offer them the chance to read ebooks that are intended for their age group, so ebooks with a reasonable degree of colour, movement and interactivity would seem to be what is needed.

So here we move towards normal adult ereaders, but not the monochrome sort, such as the Sony or Kindle ereaders, but ereaders that offer colour and sound, as well as access to a wide range of ebooks intended for this age group.

Thus, it seems to me, we are looking at ereaders such as the Nook which meets the requirements pretty well, but is expensive.

The Nook:

This is in fact a fully fledged ereader, and in passing also a cheap tablet computer, so two for the price of one…..

Not cheap, at about $250.00!  But good.

  • 7-inch color touchscreen
  • Magazines & newspapers in rich color
  • Kids’ books come alive
  • Over 2 million titles at your fingertips
  • Get social, surf the web, play games, even listen to music

As with the ereaders above, you can buy this from Amazon – and lots of other places too, of course.

Where can you get these?

All of the above can be found at Amazon, so easy to go and have a look at the various models there.

Cheaper alternatives:

As the Nook is so expensive, you might consider buying one of the many cheap ereaders out there, which can be had for as little as $50 at many supermarkets and cheap electronics shops around the world.  I can’t recommend any particular model here, for two reasons, the first is that they are sold under different names in each country, and frankly, they are not very good devices, but if you want something that will work for about a year before dying, then these are worth looking at.

Important Note!!

If you go this route, then you need to make sure that whatever you buy can work with ePub ebooks (the de facto world standard ebook format) and can also support Adobe Digital Editions DRM protected ebooks.  If it does that, then you can buy ebooks from almost any online ebook seller.

Age group 10 and above.

This is easy, buy them any ereader that appeals to you, as by this age they are, or should be, serious readers and  will no longer have any need for all the fancy interactive functions of the devices aimed at young children.

I am sure that if you buy your kids some sort of ereader, depending on their age, you will see a real jump in their reading, and will be ensuring that as they grow up they will become habituated and happy readers, something that is much to be desired for all of us.

Share with us:

Do you have any thoughts about the utility of ereaders for the very young?

6 thoughts on “Ereaders for kids? What are the available models for them? And are they a good idea for kids?

  1. Pingback: Ereaders For The Very Young Reader | eBookanoid.com | Perspectives on eBooks | Scoop.it

  2. Jenee

    Over a year ago I purchased an Ectaco jetbook mini for my very avid reader (age 8 at the time) She LOVED it! and I had little problem converting any e-book format with Calibre and various plug-ins. The size is perfect for a child’s hand, comes in colors, easy on the eyes, and it did increase her reading. (although in her case the value of this is questionable!) I loved that it was NOT back-lit and did not distract from the purpose of reading books! She did like the tetris type game but it was not enough of a distraction to take away from the books. As a parent I loved the following features: Super easy and intuitive to use; no “back-light” means it cannot be read under the covers, in the dark, etc (no need to take it away every night); I prefer no wi-fi access since I do not want my children “browsing” the internet or even books without my knowledge!; I could “fill” it with books I want her to read, and snuck in a few about puberty, etc. that I knew she would devour but would have been terribly embarrassed to hold in a typical print book; and the battery life was amazing! A couple of lithium batteries lasted months even with constant use. I cannot say enough good about this device.

    Unfortunately, her younger (autistic) sibling was jealous (rather silly, because at age 5 she was not yet reading well enough to use it!) And my daughter could not seem to help but to taunt her sister… resulting in a screen broken in the print of multiple heel stomps. Which is why I am here today! 16 months seems long enough to suffer loss from being irresponsible and I plan to replace her e-reader. But which to choose?!? The ectaco mini is the only one that has NOT dropped in price at all… which may just be my clue to order it again!

    As for the sibling… She will be receiving a Leap Pad tablet. While I not not indulge jealous whims, avoiding severe damage to expensive electronics also seems prudent :)

    Reply
  3. Tony Post author

    @ Jenee,
    I am very happy to hear your positive story about the ereader and your kid, doesnt surprise me however, kids can take to reading like there is no tomorrow given a small amount of encouragement. I can understand the problems of sibling rivalry as well, and to be honest I don’t know of any ereader that is tough enough to survive being stamped upon by small furious feet……… Nor can I think of any that would give you a replacement under warrenty in those circumstances.

    Further, almost all ereaders now have iether WiFi or 3G support too, which I can see could be a problem. Though to be honest, as a device for surfing the web, they leavde a lot to be desired.

    Perhaps if you could get your hands on one or other of the Sony models (PRS-505, PRS-650 or whatever), as they at least have metal cases, so are rather tougher than the other ereaders out there. But not the Sony ereader that is about to come out, as it is also made of plastic.

    Sadly the screens are all basically made the same way, so no one is stronger than another, and assuredly wont survive being jumped upon.

    A tricky situation, which I don’t really seem able to offer much help with.

    Reply
  4. lori

    Two critical features I’m looking for in a reader for my 13 year old boy – First, ePub & pdf compatibility (formats our public library uses). And second, internet safety. Does anyone know yet what the wifi on the new Sony Reader WiFi (PRS-T1) provides access to (ie, is there a full browser)? And are parental controls available?

    Reply
    1. Tony Post author

      @ Lori,
      To the best of my knowledge,any ereader with WiFi can surf the web, not well,but it can.
      I am not aware of any specific parent control systems in ereaders, but there are plenty out there for browsers, so I imagine you can easily enough set that up.
      But you raise a very good point, one that I had not considered, so I shall go off and see what I can discover about how we can set parental controls in place on ereaders.

      Reply
  5. ahutch

    Curious, I have been looking into e-readers for my 9 year old step daughter. The only thing that is discouraging me is the fact that if I use my debit/credit card to purchase books its stays on the device. I would not have a problem with if there was some type of parental control or password that would have to be entered in order to make a purchase. Do any of the devices have this feature?

    Reply

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