Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Thoughts on the Kindle

Being from a completely different time in the history of technology, using the Kindle and any other electronic device for that matter, will never cease to amaze me.  

Flashback...I will never forget sitting in the back of my classroom in elementary school with old, clunky headphones on, listening to a series of cassette tapes about how to speed read.  Yes (insert clearing throat noise), I was an advanced reader.  Imagine if my teachers had a little handheld device that they could download reading content based on my specific reading level and interests...like, say, the Kindle.

I remember sitting in Mrs. Jones' computer class back in the early 80s with those old Apple computers.  We made shapes on the black and white screen.  I can see the little blinking cursor plain as day in my mind's eye right now.  I can hear the hum of the computers and see Mrs. Jones scooting herself along the floor in her chair with wheels and coming over to me to point to the something on the computer screen with her crooked, arthritic finger.  

Now, back to present day, I just sit with my laptop, download books for free on Kindle Unlimited and watch educational videos with my children.  For example, we are watching the Liberty's Kids series (right now, the whole series is only $5) in order to learn about the American Revolution.  While we are watching and talking about the content, I downloaded books on the Kindle about Ben Franklin and George Washington and found a website where we could learn more about the Battle of Bunker Hill and even take a quiz. All I have to do is Google a date that is reenacted in the Liberty's Kids episode and I can explain further about any details of the event. I can enhance their experience and answer their questions more confidently.  

The back story on why we have Kindles:
Carmen won one for our family at our annual holiday dinner hosted by our foster care agency back in December.  It is a basic model with no extra things on it.  Just an eReader basically.  No games or extra apps.  Then my sister kindly bought one for the children at Christmas (the same model) so Emmett and Carmen could both be reading at the same time.  I was also able to download MacBeth in Spanish for my teenager.  It was a huge help to her for school.  So we all benefit from having the Kindles!

We are currently in a trial period of Kindle Unlimited.  It is worth the investment from what I can tell so far.  The children go through so many books that that alone makes it worth while.  You can have 10 checked out at a time from Kindle Unlimited.   However, since we go through so many books, the process of finding, checking out and returning, and delivering to different devices is very user friendly.  I am so happy with that!   

There is also something called Kindle Free Time, which I actually need to do more research on.  What I do know is that this is a more parent controlled environment on the Kindle that blocks the kids from buying books in the store and from accessing inappropriate content.  I like it, but there are certain books you cannot add to their Free Time section, like books that I have checked out from the public library.  Therefore, I don't use the Kindle Free Time that much.  Besides, the damage was already done when Carmen got wandering fingers and bought about 5 Berenstain Books from the Kindle Store.  George and I still laugh about that.  I mean, how could you get that mad when the book titles were... Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers, Do a Good Deed, Help Out, Walk and Old Lady Across the Street, Help the Neighbor Bring in the Groceries, etc. etc...

It is also nice to check out library books on the Kindle.  You can have four checked out a time.  However, we are always having to put books on hold, there is not a huge selection and it is frustrating sometimes to only be able to check out four books per card.  I go to Southwest Virginia Public Libraries to check out books. 

Overall, we love our Kindles.  I will say, though, that we went to the library last week and actually checked out books that you could hold and physically turn the pages!  Don't ever stop doing this, either!  No digital device with a screen can ever take the place of holding a good old fashioned library book in your hands.  In my opinion, anyway...

Well, maybe if the Kindle can capture the smell of the pages of a library book, then I would reconsider....

This is Emmett and Carmen writing a paragraph about the Battle of Bunker Hill from the Liberty's Kids episode.

Whatever your digital preference, may you always instill a love of reading in your children.  It is priceless to watch their excitement over reading a new book or learning a new tidbit of information. 

Happy Reading! 

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