10 Reasons To Buy An E-Reader for Kids

If you are one of those fence sitters who is considering laying down the cash to invest in an e-reader, but you're not entirely convinced of whether this is a good idea or not, read on. This is the first instalment in a series that outlines in detail some of the key pros (and cons) of making the jump from "dead tree" (or paper) books to e-books. In this first article, I am looking at buying an e-reader from the perspective of a parent and how the decision to go digital benefits you and your kids.

No More Untimely Book Deaths

Kindle Paperwhite
The Kindle Paperwhite. Courtesy of Amazon.com

Kids are tough on stuff and their favorite things really seem to take a beating. This holds true of books as well as toys. There's a good chance you can pick out any child's favorite book just by looking for the one with the battered cover and half the pages dog eared or torn out. One of the key advantages of e-books is that they are virtually indestructible. Thanks to back-ups and cloud storage options, once you buy an e-book, it takes a considerable amount of effort to delete that book in a manner that is irrecoverable. Sure, the e-book reader itself is vulnerable, but you can buy protective cases that minimize the risk. Short of laminating every page, there is no equivalent with traditional printed books.

Onboard Dictionary

Many e-readers include a handy dictionary feature. This is a great option for kids. When they encounter a word they aren't sure about, it's quick and simple to select the word and call up its definition.

Go Ahead, Write On The Pages

We all know that kids like to write on their books. While you can't really replicate the experience of scribbling on a page with a crayon, most current e-readers do have options for writing on a page through the device's keyboard. This is especially handy for school assignments and allows students to make notes in the virtual page margins without actually disfiguring the book.

No More Lost Library Books

As parents, the library is a great source for kids' books without having to buy them. The downside is that desperate scramble after two weeks. Where did the library books go? Are they under the bed, in the closet, at a friend's house or maybe sitting on a chair in the back yard (being soaked by rain)? With an e-reader, you can borrow kids' books from most libraries. The selection isn't as good as the traditional collection, but it's increasing as e-readers gain in popularity. The best part is that when your child borrows an e-book, it "returns" itself; the e-book simply deletes from their e-book reader when the borrowing period is over. No more searching for the books, carting them to the drop-off or trudging in to pay a late fine. 

No Fights Over The Favorite Book

Any parent with more than one child knows what can happen when a new book arrives, particularly if it's a hot title. Fights over whose turn it is to read the book. There's no need to relive the Harry Potter battles with every new series. When you buy an e-book, most e-readers allow you to share the titles among multiple devices. So one copy of an e-book is accessible simultaneously to multiple children, each on his or her own e-reader.

A Library Wherever You Go

Whether embarking on a long drive or going on a vacation, part of the parental ritual is bringing along something to entertain the kids during travel and when relaxing. This may take the form of bags of books (because we all know, kids like choice and one book isn't going to cut it), which takes up space, adds to clutter and represents additional opportunities to accidentally leave something behind when it's time to come home. A child with access to an e-reader can be carrying hundreds of books in their hand. One object to keep track of, one object to cart around and a lot less clutter in the car.

No More Cooties From the Waiting Room Books

Parents who spend time in waiting rooms with their kids -at the dentist, doctor, hospital or even a car dealership- inherently recognize that the tattered books provided to keep the kids busy have been handled by hundreds or thousands of grubby hands. Like the toys in the area, they're probably crawling with germs. Bringing an e-reader lets you load up with books to keep your child occupied without inviting a virus. And, unlike bringing your own paper books to read, it's easy to wipe off an e-reader afterward if you want to disinfect it.

Better Than Video Games

Kids like to play with gadgets. Electronics are hip and many of todays children practically grew up with a portable game console. An e-reader helps to satisfy that gadget lust and lets parents feel a little better about doing so, since reading is generally considered to be a preferred activity (at least by many parents) to playing video games.

Cheaper Than An iPod

If your child wants to sling a gadget, generally speaking, an e-reader is cheaper than most iPod models. A starter Kindle currently goes for $79.99, for example. It may not play games, but most e-readers will play MP3s if they need something to play music. As an added bonus, parents don't have to worry about recharging batteries every day or two, since e-readers will go for weeks on a charge.

Stealth Reading

Peer pressure can extend all the way to reading material. With no book cover to advertise what they're reading, a child with an e-reader can read whatever books they wish without anyone being the wiser.

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