It is a commonplace now in tweets and posts about the experience of owning a Kindle that users find themselves reading more on the Kindle than they did before. That is certainly my story. I browse the Wall Street Journal every morning now, and currently have two novels going. The time I spend reading has jumped from 0-30 minutes per day before getting my Kindle to an average of 2 hours per day. Pretty significant.
Now we know that the major reason most 8th-graders are reading below grade level is that they don’t read enough. Researchers and experts tell us that “volume and diversity of reading” is what’s lacking for young readers today. It is both a diagnosis and a prescription. Kids need to read more, and a variety of texts, if they want to become proficient readers. Period.
So, if the Kindle has me reading more, and reading from a greater variety of texts, could it do the same for students?
Let’s start with why I am reading more. First, the Kindle economizes so many aspects of the reading experience. I have everything I am reading with me all the time. I can pull out the Kindle and read whatever moves me curled up in my big comfy chair, waiting in the dentist’s office, sipping a misto at Starbucks–you name it. I NEVER think anymore about what I want to take along to read at the pool or over lunch. I can pick up with any text at any time. Simple.
More importantly, I can follow my reading interests effortlessly. Adults forget how important choice and control is to their lives as readers. With the Kindle, I can sample any book I run across that looks interesting, with very few exceptions. And then, if I become engrossed, I just buy the book on the fly and keep on reading. (See my earlier post on The Power of the Sample here.)
In addition, I can read that text in any format I like. I like being able to make the font size larger, and that is certainly one of the reasons I am reading more. One largely unexplored and infrequently addressed element in the reading equation is the physical apprehension of text. These days, when I pick up a print book with a small font size, a struggle begins. In fact, small font size in print or on the web makes the words jump around a bit for me. I lose my place more easily. But when I crank the Kindle up to font size #4, or even to a bold and satisfying #5 in low light or late in the day, my eyes just relax and start gobbling up the text.
So, are these elements that might contribute to students reading more, if they had a Kindle to read on? Stay posted for the next update on that very topic.