Recent research shows that about one in five people have read an e-book in the past year, and that the availability of e-books and e-readers is resulting in more reading, even among those (men) who are “infrequent readers.” Reading as a pastime is still in decline, but that decline is slowing down.
The Amazon Kindle is a popular e-reader, and it has plenty of features to help make reading a pleasure. There are a number of Kindle models to choose from – I’m going to look specifically at the Kindle Touch.
First on the list of notable qualities is the e-ink system that the Kindle Touch uses. The screen actually looks like real paper. There’s no glare, and because the screen isn’t backlit, the battery on the Touch lasts a long time. As many have noted, you can even use your Kindle outdoors in the sun without difficulty or eyestrain.
The six-inch screen is about the size of a paperback and you can adjust the text size to your own preference. Page-turning on the Touch is fast with the swipe or tap of a finger, and you can easily mark pages and passages with bookmarks. You can search for specific words or passages, highlight text and then save the highlighted passages as notes, or add your own notes. The built-in dictionary provides definitions at your fingertips, which you can save, along with any notes, to retrieve and work with later.
You can also use the Kindle Touch as a reading coach. Most e-books are speech-enabled, and although it won’t highlight words as they’re being spoken, the text-to-speech feature on the Touch is flexible and easy to use. Open an e-book, tap Menu, then tap Turn On Text-to-Speech. Once speech is activated, you have options to turn the volume up or down and increase or decrease reading speed, and you can also choose between a male or female robot voice. Review our earlier posts to learn how text-to-speech may benefit you or your students.
In spite of (or maybe because of) all these features, the Kindle does take some getting used to. You can’t always easily do what you want to do from where you are. For example, you must have a book open in order to turn on the text-to-speech function. There is no place or command for deleting a book, either. Simply touch the book title from the home page and hold it down until the delete option pops up.
Spend some time with the Kindle, and explore what it can do. When in doubt, go to the User’s Guide and search for answers there. You’ll find that the Kindle offers a pleasant, personally customized reading experience. There’s no better time than now to jump on the (e-)reading bandwagon.