Guest blogger Tamsin McCahill from has two young boys, and here ponders the pros and cons of eBook readers for. Are they suitable for young children?

Do your kids love reading? If so, you may have toyed with the idea of getting them eBook readers of their own. This can be especially true if you’ve ever gone on holiday with a little bookworm and had to lug around suitcases full of their books.

But is it really a good idea to give a youngster a Kindle as a gift? Well, it would very much depend on the age and maturity of the child in question. As a rule of thumb, have a look at how they treat their physical books. If they’re torn and covered in questionable substances, it might be a good idea to leave it for a few years!

There’s little doubt they’d be able to work out how to use it. Even my 18-month old has worked out how to access his favourite Talking Tom Cat app by himself. OK, he sometimes does end up calling Australia in the process, but we’re working on that.

But while tech-savvy toddlers may be able to work their way round your iPad 2 better than you can, if the only reading they do is of the on-screen kind, you may well be denying them an important early learning experience. While iPad 2 e-readers are certainly more colourful and interactive than some, it still doesn’t have the same physical properties of an actual book that thrills young readers the most, such as the ability to flip pages back and forth.

But when your kids hit eight or nine, there can be some real advantages of getting them e-Readers of their own – not least that they’d finally get off your iPad.

If you worry that your child’s not reading enough, getting them a Nook or Kindle can get them excited about books again – especially if they love gadgets. According to this New York Times article, kids are fast catching up with adults in terms of US eBook sales.

But if you’re thinking of taking the plunge and getting your children their own electronic readers, make sure you lay down some ground rules first. If your little darling frequently breaks things, tell them they must be sitting down to use it. Let them know that it’s fragile, and that they won’t be getting a replacement should it break.

Getting them a decent cover is a must. Check out all the Kindle accessories you can buy to stop them from getting scratched or broken. Some come in bright colours and patterns that are perfect for style-conscious kids.

Most importantly, don’t forget to turn off the one-click paying option and keep your password to yourself, so they always have to ask you before buying a new book. That way, you won’t get any nasty surprises on your credit card bill, and you’ll know exactly what they’re reading.

What are your experiences? Do your kids have e-Readers? Or have you considered investing in one for them to use?

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3 thoughts on “Are e-Book readers suitable for children?

  1. My 13 year old has had one for almost 2 years now…it is wonderful!

    Posted on February 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm
    1. I didn’t think I would ever take to it…but have been pleasantly surprised. My 4 year old did his montessori letters on one too. They definitely have a place don’t they. 🙂

      Posted on February 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm