Recently, I gave in and went digital when it comes to reading. Yes, I know. Teachers are among the last group of people you would expect to be doing this. However, the experience was surprising. When people doubt the concept of “love at first sight” they clearly haven’t purchased a Kindle! For me, there be no going back!
Kindle is Amazon’s e-reader which, to date, has been released in several generations including the latest 3G, which connects wirelessly (and for free) to Amazon.com in more than 100 countries. This feature makes downloading new books an effortless snap. This new version also features all kinds of improvements, in case you have been dissuaded by an earlier model, including a nifty little price tag of under $200. For those of you that think this is still too expensive keep reading.
Not only do you get this truly amazing little device for under 200 bucks but you get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of classical books for free! That’s right, Amazon is offering all their public domain books for free download. The other day I downloaded Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on the bus on the way home from work and read 17% of it before I got home. All for free!
For those of you who are wondering where I am going with all of this, let me explain. Not only do I think that the Kindle might singlehandedly revive classical literature, but I think it has tremendous potential for the classroom also. With newspaper and magazine subscriptions delivered wirelessly—Time is only $2.99/month—and built in dictionaries and even a “Read-to-Me” voice-to-text feature, the new Kindle is a gem in terms of classroom technology. I am currently teaching Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in my classroom, for example, and this novel would be an ideal one for reading over a Kindle device. The novel, while not written in Shakespearian English, does employ an exigent vocabulary, which would be ideally tackled by an on-board dictionary. The Kindle allows users to hover over words in the text and read their definitions. Again, the Kindle might also revive that other dead thing we call the dictionary.
In special education, the voice-to-text feature will prove more than beneficial. And, across all student populations the integration of technology with reading will likely increase student interest and engagement. Oh, and although I am forgetting to mention many exciting features, I will mention one more—the onboard PDF reader. With this feature, teachers can construct their own documents and send them wirelessly, via an email address, directly to the student’s Kindle devices. If you can make it into a PDF, you can make it into a Kindle document.
In conclusion, I cannot over-express my amazement with this little device. Although I do realize that education budgets in many places do not permit the purchase of class Kindle sets, I retain hope. My school board recently purchased dozens of mini-laptops for English classrooms, for example, and, perhaps, next time around it will be the Kindle. So what are you waiting for? Write your superintendent and tell her all about the new Kindle and how you must have it, then—get Kindle-ing!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Sweet has no affiliation with Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates and this review does not necessarily express the opinion of Canadian Teacher Magazine or its employees.
Michael Ernest Sweet is an educator, writer and social activist. He is the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Canada and an inductee of the Wall of Fame at the National Teachers Hall of Fame Museum in the USA. Michael divides his time between Montreal and New York City and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Jan/Feb 2011 issue.