While tablet computers like the iPad get more attention, eBook readers—comparatively simpler devices designed specifically for reading electronic versions of books, magazines and newspapers—are currently selling in greater numbers and at a faster rate than tablets. E-book readers also hold much appeal for education, and for the same reasons they are increasing in popularity with consumers: ever-improving features and growing capabilities for displaying a variety of content, for a fraction of the price of most full-featured tablet PCs. School libraries in particular have led the way in implementing the devices, which have turned out to be useful tools to excite "digital native" students about reading. Many e-book readers are also increasingly appealing to K12 because of recent developments including the introduction of some of the first digital textbooks, new education-content partnerships between e-book reader manufacturers and education publishers, and recent legislation in states such as Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia, Texas, California and Florida that include some sort of future mandate for digital content use—which could include digital books—in all public schools. Here are a few options to consider using in your district.
Franklin AnyBook Reader, $59.99
Elementary educators may be interested in Franklin's AnyBook Reader, which provides electronic reading assistance but without using a tablet device too complicated for young students to operate. The product allows teachers to record narration of any book they choose and then sync it to a sticker placed on the page. Young students learning to read then touch the pen to the sticker on each page to hear the words read to them; they both hear the correct pronunciation and see the correct spelling. Additional stickers with preloaded sound effects are available to add more interaction and character to books.
Brainchild Kineo, $299
Brainchild, maker of handheld gaming devices for education, released its first touchscreen tablet PC, the Kineo, earlier this year. Intended to utilize the advantages of a tablet design while eliminating distractions such as texting, cameras or unapproved Web browsing, the Kineo, which uses Google's Android operating system, can also be used as an e-book reader. Designed specifically for the K12 classroom, the device has a heavy-duty, durable and full-color touchscreen, and it integrates with Brainchild's Achiever! Web-based assessment and standards-based instruction program.
Amazon Kindle, Starts at $114
The third generation of Amazon's Kindle can hold up to 3,500 electronic books. It includes a highcontrast, 6-inch screen for reading even in bright sunlight, a 30-hour battery life, built-in Wi-Fi, an available 3G wireless model, and free downloads of any of 1.8 million out-of-copyright classic books, all in an 8.5-ounce device that is 1/3 of an inch thick. The Kindle also includes annotation tools, a built-in dictionary, and a "Whispersync" application that enables access to titles across different mobile devices. Beginning in the fall of 2011, Kindle users will be able to "check out" electronic books from local libraries.
Barnes & Noble Nook, $139, $249
The Nook from Barnes & Noble Booksellers is available as a black and white e-book reader ($139) that is very similar to the Kindle, with Wi-Fi, a 6-inch screen, and storage of up to 1,000 books, magazines and newspapers. Unlike the Kindle, however, the Nook uses a touchscreen design. The Nook Color ($249) offers a 7-inch, full-color touchscreen, a variety of apps, e-mail, Web browsing and available interactive children's books. Barnes and Noble also offers NOOKstudy, a free platform for purchasing and using digital textbooks that functions on a PC or Mac computer and integrates into Blackboard's Learn platform.