Having a child that reads a lot is an awesome problem to have and getting an electronic reader is a great way to save money, time and energy. Not to mention that kids and technology just seem to go together seamlessly. The good and bad news is that there are plenty of really good options that range from ebooks designed for young kids all the way up to ereaders for students that are using them as textbooks as well.
For this post we’ll focus on the traditional purpose of an e-reader, which is to download and store multiple chapter books and novels and make reading simple and fun.
Best Kids Ereader
Making this call was a close one. By now everyone has heard of the heavily marketed e-readers such as the Kindle, Nook, and Ipad. Each of these have their strengths but not necessarily as a good ebook for kids. After doing a lot of research we had it narrowed down to the Amazon Kindle and the Sony PRS-300.
What made it tough to decide was that they share a lot in common. They both use the e-ink technology which does a tremendous job of providing the dark contrast that you would need in a book without any glare interference or subjecting the eyes to excess strain (something that is pretty important for young eyeballs).
They also are both fairly durable; as durable as an e-reader can get. Both have had reports of drops from waist level or lower with minimal to no damage being done. Obviously, this is important for any child who has butterfingers.
But what sets the Sony PRS-300 (or the “Pocket Ereader”) is, oddly enough, the many design factors that the Amazon Kindle touts. Things like the ereader navigation; the Kindle is fairly easy to get the hang of and I’m sure most kids would do quite well, but the Sony Ereader is much easier at storing and finding your books and getting from page to home back to the page you were on is a breeze. Another design factor is the sheer size. The Sony Pocket Ereader is designed to mimic a paperback book both in size and in weight. The Amazon Kindle is very light and airy but this actually makes it difficult to hold on to at times. Meanwhile, the Sony Pocket ebook is easy to hold and can easily fit into a jacket or cargo pants pocket making it convenient to take on trips or in the car. Plus, the Sony ebook reader has only one set of page turning buttons and they are out of the way. I’ve found this to be the biggest problem with the Kindle is that the buttons are right at the center of gravity and are the first place you want to put your hands (making it easy to accidentally turn the page).
Another huge benefit of the Sony Ereader is that it can access your local library’s ebook selection. So if you are one of those parents that likes the service of your local library they can now access them online providing tons of free ebooks for kids. This has a huge benefit as you can imagine as the price of ebooks can add up quick!
But if you prefer the longevity of purchasing a book and reading it over and over, Sony has its own online bookstore. Just like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Sony has thousands of ebooks available through their own software (same idea as iTunes: use the software to download the book and sync to your reader). This feature is a big advantage as you can control exactly what your child is reading and how much they spend (whereas the Kindle they can just keep racking up charges to your credit card).
The only real downfall that we could find, which was also what made it difficult to decide, was that the battery life was sketchy. There were a few reports that the ereader worked fine for months and months only to have it suddenly die. Then there are people who have had no problems for multiple years. There has been rumors that they fixed this issue with a new battery, but it’s still something to keep in mind. Good news is that Sony’s customer service is good about replacing it.
If you are looking for a good, cheap ereader for kids that is just an ereader (no surfing the internet, no mp3s, no text to voice even) then we think that you’ll enjoy the Sony PRS-300 pocket ereader for your child.
The Runner Up for the best kids ereader is of course the Amazon Kindle. Seeing as nearly everyone is familiar with the Kindle’s features, I thought I would highlight some of the things that make it a good ereader for children.
As we mentioned the e-ink technology prevents eyestrain. It’s amazing how much this looks like an actual book, which means that they will also need to keep a light on while reading.
We also mentioned that it is durable, something important with kids.
Easy book downloads (perhaps too easy?) and a massive collection that will help them find similar books that will keep them reading more.
The Kindle also has an extremely long battery life (once you turn off wifi). The book can go for a month or more without needing a charge! No need to bring cords with you on vacation or try to get an adapter for the car. Plus the battery is very reliable (something that can’t be said for the Sony ereader).
Then there is the cool factor. The Sony e-reader suffers from a lack of product promotion. Its predecessors came out way before there were Kindles, but Amazon has successfully promoted the Kindle to have a definite cool factor. And what kid doesn’t want to be cool?
Other User Suggestions
Nintendo DS 100 Classics – If your child has a Nintendo DS, there is a “game” that is a compilation of 100 of the classic books from back in the day. Many of these they will probably at one time or another read in school. These include: The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, A Tale of Two Cities, Sherlock Holmes, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Crime and Punishment, and many more.
Barnes & Noble NOOK Color eBook Tablet – The Nook was the answer to the Kindle and they decided to “one up” them by going color. This is great for things like kids books where pictures play a large role in the story telling experience.
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