Amazon Alexa Can Now Help Your Child Learn to Read

A digital reading companion

Amazon Alexa’s newest feature helps kids improve their reading skills by encouraging them to read along with Alexa.  

The feature, called Reading Sidekick, is now available for Amazon’s Kids+ service on Amazon Fire tablets and Amazon Echo speakers. By saying “Alexa, let’s read,” kids are prompted to choose one of the hundreds of supported books and read along with Alexa. 

Girl reading book

Getty Images/MoMo Productions

A child can choose to read a little (Alexa reads most of the pages), read a lot (the child reads four sentences, paragraphs, or pages), or take equal turns reading with Alexa. Amazon said Alexa will provide words of encouragement when the child is doing well and offer more support if the child is struggling with the book.

“Reading Sidekick offers children excellent reading support in the form of ’edutainment’—kids learn a gracious plenty, but they’re enjoying the interaction with Alexa so much, they don’t necessarily know they’re learning,” said Dr. Michelle Martin, a professor for Children and Youth Services at the University of Washington, in the company’s announcement. 

Illustration of a child saying "Alexa, let's read."

Amazon

Reading Sidekick is meant to be like reading with a grownup if an adult is busy or unavailable, or when kids want to practice reading independently without a parent. 

Parents can still check in on their kids’ reading progress, though, since the Amazon Kids+ parent dashboard will show how long it took their child to read a book and what book was read. 

According to The Verge, the feature took a year to build, and Amazon worked with teachers, science researchers, and curriculum experts to develop it for kids ages 6 to 9. Amazon hopes the feature helps with the “summer slide,” the break in school where kids are less likely to engage in educational activities. 

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