The Lowdown on Children and eReading Devices

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For Christmas this year, both my children (8 and 11) received Kobo Clara eReaders. Perhaps a controversial gift from a librarian mother, but I like to think I embrace all forms of reading and I know that my own eReader and my audio book ‘habit’ greatly increases the amount of books I can churn through…and this is the top priority for me!

In the past I have had ‘banks’ of eReaders to be loaned from the library  and they were successful for a time, but on the whole my experience is that most young people still enjoy reading in print.

I know around this time that many students also got their own personal eReading device and I do think this option possibly works better than having devices to be loaned as each individual can organise their digital library to their liking and their reading preferences (font size etc) can be saved.

I am a huge advocate for eReaders where there are diagnosed literacy issues as the capability to personalise the reading experience with a digital device is invaluable.

Late last year I asked about eReaders in the Your Kid’s Next Read FB group  (which you should totally join as it’s LOVELY) I run with authors Allison Tait and Allison Rushby. I had already decided that I was going with the Kobo brand of eReader as I knew that Kindles were locked to Amazon whereas with a Kobo they can access the school digital platform (in our case Wheelers) and Overdrive from Australian public libraries.


Some of the responses I got are below (names removed for privacy):

It’s so great being able to borrow books! e-readers are so great compared to ipads in terms of readability (it’s more like paper), weight, battery life and lack of distractions.

In the Overdrive app on the device, search for your local library, then you just enter your library number and pin. 

Whenever we do a long road trip, **** borrows about 20 books out on borrow box! Very handy.

 I have a lot of dyslexic students where I work and the eReaders have opened up the world of reading to those kids like nothing else. With the click of a button they can change to a dyslexic friendly font and coloured background. The physical dyslexic friendly books are often over $100 and are HUGE and cumbersome so not inviting. On an eReader the kids are reading the same sized book (even when they are not). To me it’s about balance. Working in a school, I see the need for kids to be able to cope with digital reading…

I like eReaders as they are exclusive devices- all you can do is read…no social media, no internet…just reading.

 I’ve really changed my tune on eReaders – they have taken down SO MANY barriers to reading for so many kids I teach and I’m less ‘concerned’ about them these days as I’ve not meant a single child who prefers an eReader to an actual book but it does at least gives options for READING 24/7.

We are a family of 4 kids who are all avid and ferocious readers. We have travelled internationally quite extensively and lived in countries where English is definitely not even close to the primary language and lived remotely in Australia where quality and diverse literature is very difficult to access. Without e readers we wouldn’t have been reading! We have been home a little while and the kids flick between books we own (we missed our bookcases) borrow and download.
My eldest loves to make notes which he does easily on the kindle and refers back to them regularly when discussing some of his books. Not uncommon to see him with his kindle and book at the same time. The younger ones now tag pages and share them with each other too. We have all types of books including graphic novels, joke books and books on the bubonic plague. We also access books that aren’t English to help with their language awareness and learning. All are held in my account so I can screen as required but the array and variety of books has been great. I also have readers only, no tablets as the lighting is quite different (not blue) and therefore can be read near bed time and there is not distractions from the books.
I could not afford all the new books my kids get to read in hard copy, nor could I store them. Libraries we love but even the best seem limited sometimes especially for languages other than English. The note taking and referencing is awesome and the dictionary too. Often they look up words in the kindle dictionary then look in our big hard cover Macquarie to compare. For me it is all about balance and I think the research is not quite conclusive yet. Anything that provides another point of access to diverse and varying literature is worth looking at in my eyes. In relation to access for people with literacy difficulties, disabilities or people who speak multiple languages both ebooks and auditory books are essential and truly open amazing pathways. The research for those readers interestingly also show very different results to people with no limitations to their literacy.

I love borrow box. I too live away from Australia and although there is an English section of the local library, where I do borrow books, it is very small and not all to my taste (I’ve branched out a bit though so that has been good!). So e-books and audio books on borrow box from the Brisbane Council Library has been perfect!! Also handy for night reading with our girls. Wish I could read on a e-reader though as I do get distracted myself by other things on my phone or iPad.

Between the helpful advice from Your Kid’s Next Read and my own research I had done when writing my book ‘Raising Readers’, I decided that Kobos were the way to go and I was not going to overthink it. I went with the Kobo Clara here.

These days we have access to multiple digital options with which to equip and entertain our children and the feeling of overwhelm on ‘which to choose’ is very real for many of us. Like many others, I struggle to find the right balance of screen time for my children. I want my children to be able to manage technology and enhance their digital skills but in a technologically complex world it’s all just so overwhelming at times!

PudStar reading on her Kobo by the pool at Christmas…

My one piece of advice is to ensure you familiarise your young reader with their technology and have them develop their expertise so they are not reliant on adults to use their digital device or online reading mode of choice. This may seem ridiculous in a world where teachers and parents often bemoan the fact that ‘the young people’ navigate new technologies with seeming ease and grace. However, often their level of expertise is related to what results in the fastest outcome for them, not necessarily how to use the technology for maximum academic or social benefit.

Since December PudStar (11) has either purchased or borrowed and read

The entire ‘Heroes of Olympus’ series

by Rick Riordan

Buy the eBook series here

The ‘Raymie Nightingale’ series

by Kate DiCamillo

Buy the ‘Raymie Nightingale’ eBook from Booktopia here

‘H is for Happiness’

by Barry Jonsberg

Print & eBook available

Several ‘Middle School’ titles

by James Patterson

Print & eBook available

‘Move the Mountains’

by Emily Conolan (read my interview with her here)

Print & eBook available

’47 Degrees’

by Justin D’Ath

Print & eBook available

Since December ChickPea (8) has either purchased or borrowed and read

The entire ‘Clementine Rose’ series

by  Jacqueline Harvey (this was a re-read for her)

Buy eBook series here

Many, many ‘Bindi Wildlife Adventures’ titles

by Bindi Irwin & various

Print & eBooks available

‘The Peski Kids 4 – Near Extinction’

by  R.A. Spratt

Print & eBooks available

‘Wolf Girl’ 1 & 2

by Anh Do (re-read for her)

Print & eBooks available

‘Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery’

by Renee Treml (re-read for her and one of her favs)

Print & eBook available

The ‘Funny Kid’ series

by Matt Stanton

Print & eBooks available

Thoughts on eReaders?


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1 Comment

  1. Samantha on Apr 17, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    Thank you Megan, I love reading Children’s books daily! It gives me the best ideas for new books to read with my 8-year-old. She loves reading so much, we can hardly keep up with finding her new books. It’s true that it is harder and harder to keep our little bookworms away from technology, like tablets and e-readers. And while I prefer my little one browse paper books, I too have gotten her a Kobo that we share.

    At the risk of sounding spammy, I’m really glad I found out about this programme: https://bit.ly/AheadOfReading. It’s really a good share for any parent of a child that enjoys reading!

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