One of my favourite gadgets this year has been my Kindle Paperwhite. I’ve wanted to share how It’s changed my reading habits for a long time and hearing about a client’s experience with them in a local Junior school has prompted me to finally get around to writing this post.
I’ve always loved reading, probably related to long school holidays in the south of France in my father’s television-free apartment. His ‘library’ was immense, back in the days when joining a book club meant being sent 3 random books a month along with the staple bestsellers like Stephen King.
My early teenage summers were horror-filled.
Living in London and riding the tube / bus usually meant there was a paperback close to hand. But, as time moved on so did I – commuting longer distances by train encouraged sleeping rather than reading. Then, when the commute relied on driving and small children meant going to bed brought on rapid sleep, books became a pleasure reserved for holidays. Small children grow a little and even that sunbed and book time is lost.
Years pass and social media did encourage more reading. Short, sharp intakes of text, usually articles shared on Twitter or Facebook about web design (for work) or politics (for despair). Having a tablet and children reaching a less tiring age did bring reading back to the bedside table. But a tablet is full of distractions – an email pops up or someone posts something to Facebook and your attention wanders. Plus, even a 7 inch Nexus makes a thud when it hits you on the nose as you doze off.
So, when Black Friday 2015 came around, my Amazon Prime subscription that has completely changed how we shop encouraged me to look at Kindles again. I’d played with them before but never thought I read enough to justify the purchase. A special offer too good to refuse and the next morning my early Christmas present to myself arrived. A lovely Kindle Paperwhite.
And it is a lovely piece of kit. Perfectly proportioned and weighted, the matt black design making it not too precious to slip into a bag or pocket without looking cheap. I downloaded my first book and then the penny dropped.
Reading didn’t justify the purchase. The purchase justified the reading.
All the reasons I’d had to stop reading had gone. Books are bulky, inconvenient and pricey. The Kindle was always handy and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library made them free – with a particularly interesting twist.
The library doesn’t include every book nor every author. And I’m tight. So I started to explore different authors, styles and genres. Suddenly I was reading about D-Day from a German perspective or a homeless man making his living on the streets of Rio impersonating Charlie Chaplin.
So now I was hooked on reading again and in a very convenient way. When someone on Facebook mentioned a local author, I’d bought the book and it had been delivered to my Kindle without me moving from my seat. I was finding out how to change my Limiting Beliefs, how to build content with workshops.
It’s not just me
Even Helen, my otherwise gadget-uninterested wife, went from “Why have you bought that?” to “Can I have one?” in a few weeks. And she raves to her friends about it too.
So I was even more intrigued when one of our fairly marvellous website design clients sent me a new article to publish on his website. In Switching On Reluctant Readers with Technology, David Jarvis writes about his project using Kindles to motivate underachieving, disengaged readers in his junior school.
The results were amazing…
The end of term assessment showed that 100% of the involved pupils had improved in their reading attainment: with 60% of the initial group increasing in their reading age by over 6 months within the four month period. All pupils also improved in the number of questions that they were getting correct in their weekly comprehensions.
The e-reader trackers demonstrated that all pupils (identified as previously reluctant readers) were reading at home more regularly and for longer periods than they were before participating in the project. For some children the increase was very significant.
Parental surveys confirmed that all of the parents of the children in the focus group were reading more regularly with their children than before the intervention of the project.
The end or the beginning?
While some pronounce Kindle (and Amazon for that matter) the death of the book shop, I’m thinking it could well be the saviour of reading and the writer.
Do you have a Kindle? Or have you avoided them like the plague? I’d love to read your comments below or on the Facebook post.
A Microsoft Certified Professional with many years of large corporate experience and training, he now focuses on helping small businesses make the most of their IT.
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