Amazon’s e-reader, the Kindle, can be a wonderful classroom tool, and it’s something parents can easily make available for their students at home. So wonderful, in fact, that I can’t do the Kindle justice in just one blog post. Hence the Kids and Kindles series.
Part two: how to use the Kindle to teach speed reading
For a full lesson on speed reading, read my blog entry on the topic. Here are the Cliffs Notes:
- Speed read by tracking with your finger. Yes, just like you did back in first grade. Build up speed by sliding your finger more quickly under the text and challenging your eyes and mind to keep up.
- This helps because it focuses your eye. Without imposing focus, your eyes will just wander over the page, re-reading, skipping along, and generally wasting time.
- It also teaches you not to read in your head. You know how little kids read aloud? Well, us older folks enunciate the words in our heads. As you learn to track your finger faster and read faster, you will read much faster than you could talk. Once you break the reading-aloud-in-your-head habit, you read much faster.
How does Kindle help kids with speed reading?
- It focuses the mind. With the Kindle, you are looking at a single page at a time, not a double-page spread. It feels like you are cutting your distractions in half.
- The eye doesn’t have to slide so far. With a traditional Kindle—the ones that are about 6” wide, the text is a little narrower than in many books. Your eye doesn’t have to slide so far, and you take in many words at once, naturally scooping them into phrases. This makes a huge difference in how quickly you read. Think about a newspaper, and how those 3” columns are built for speed reading. Your eye takes in several words at once.
- Kids get a feeling of accomplishment as they click through the pages. You know how kids who are just learning to read chapter books stop constantly to brag about how many pages they have read or what chapter they’re on? Kindle brings back that exhilarating feeling of accomplishment. For some reason, it really is fun to click through pages. This encourages kids to read faster—faster—faster! (My advice to you: allow some time for goof-off clicking through pages to let kids get it out of their systems.)
- You can enlarge the font size. This addresses many problems facing kids. For example, a poor child might wait forever for new glasses while you and the school nurse try to secure a pair. With a Kindle, you can enlarge the font size so the child can read without headaches. Enlarging the font size also makes any book seem easier. This can decrease the intimidation factor for struggling readers. Click here to read comments about Kindle and kids on Amazon—there are some persuasive testimonials.
- Kindle is new. Like any skill, you get better at reading—and speed reading—through practice. Although it’s been around a while, Kindle is still a novelty. Kids who don’t like to read will want to use the Kindle. They’ll practice more than they would have otherwise.
Don’t miss Part 1 about how the Kindle will read any book out loud to you. Important: you don’t get text-to-speech with the cheapest Kindle, the $79 one. You have to buy a Kindle with audio features. If you need text-to-speech, get a Kindle Touch or a Kindle Keyboard.
Kids and Kindles, an occasional series at the Class Antics blog.