On Blog Kindle, blogger “matthew” ponders whether the Kindle would be good for classroom use in early education (first through fifth or sixth grade). It would mean students wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting their books, and it could avoid vandalism such as notes scribbled in margins.

Of course, it does have its drawbacks—most notably, students’ tendency to break things, intentionally or accidentally. Though Amazon does have a good return and repair policy, it is unclear whether it could stand up to the rigors of grade school use.

More important would be the issue of efficacy.  While the Kindle is great for sequential reading, its limited navigational options and slow refresh rate can be a pain for referring to scattered parts of a book.  On top of that, until color screens come into fashion in the eReading world there will always be some question of whether enough is being done to hold student attention.  There is a reason that most textbooks for children are thoroughly illustrated and brightly colored.

I suspect that the “ooh, neat toy with buttons to push!” factor of gadgets would mitigate the lack of color to at least some extent, but that’s something that would have to be seen in action to be sure.

After weighing the pros and cons, matthew suggests that the issue should probably be decided through trials, to see how well they work in the classroom; the one comment the post has gotten so far agrees. I think that could be right, but in a few years some of the drawbacks might be considerably more (pardon the pun) academic—if prices keep coming down, sooner or later e-ink readers will be cheap enough not too worry too much about kids possibly tearing up.


  1. I have purchased 3 for my classroom. They have been nothing but successful. My students sign up well in advance to check them out. From good readers to reluctant readers. Plus, it has the added bonus if being able to place a student in a lower than grade level book without worry of embarrassment.

  2. @Christopher makes some good points, especially about obscuring current reading level, but I wonder why we have to make do with a limited capability device when better options are available. Of course I’m thinking of an iPad 2 that could support so many more aspects of the curriculum than a Kindle. The money spent on printed textbooks could be re-purposed to finance the devices. Open source eBooks and the plentitude of free apps would certainly equal or exceed what commercial publishers have to offer.

  3. I agree that Kindles/iPads have their advantages, but I think that it all depends on the teacher and the way these devices are introduced into the teaching environment. Children are being exposed to these gadgets at home, and undoubtedly enjoy playing with them, and this positive attitude towards technology can be transferred over to the attitude the children have towards learning with the aid of these devices.

    Lower overall textbook costs is probably the most obvious reason for moving towards ebooks . Universities are also introducing eTexbooks into the curriculum in the case where not every chapter in the textbook is needed. There is the downside though that students will not have hard copies of textbooks to refer back to after graduation. In the case of accountants and lawyers for example, the number of portfolio analysis and GDL textbooks on their shelves seem to indicate their level of knowledge. I think it is these very factual jobs that will continue to believe in the hard copy textbooks.

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