28 December 2010


   I love gadgets, electronica, devices. I want them all. Now. Thousands of ideas for my classes pop into my head every time I see an iPad ad, watch my students geek out on our iTouch Words with Friends tournaments, or give the student with the iPad the floor, as he shows everyone else how easy it is to "get" Macbeth while I stand by superfluous, for once. And I have always been an input junkie. What could be better than more ways to read and digest the world?
   So I am lucky that my husband has a calmer head and works through the pro/con list very time I see a bright shiny toy and cry "now!" He decided on a Kindle for Christmas and I love it. I bounced over to my sister's house to show it off, but was met by TWO nieces (8 and 14 years) with their brand new Nooks, even more sparkly than my Kindle. So I spent the evening working through the Nook details with the  8-year-old while inwardly comparing her toy to mine. I am still pleased with husband's choice for me, but am also dazzled by the power that the Nook already exhibits over the girls' reading patterns.
1. Readability: I have weak eyes, so as a reader, there is no comparison; the Kindle wins. The e-paper is much easier on the eyes, so I can read longer. The Nook sights like my MacBook, and I felt the eyestrain just as quickly. I will miss the physical experience of a book with the Kindle. I have always loved the feel of the page in my hand, and still identify the smell of a book as a great selling point. I still remember the first time my grandmother let me touch her small red leatherbound Gold Bug by Poe that had goldleafed page edges. I have that book now, and it is one of my prized possessions. So neither reader can come close to that sense experience.
2. Color & Touchscreen: The Nook color is great, high resolution, and the touchscreen is almost as good as an iPad or iPhone.  It is hard to look away, great for the second grader. If you are getting a reader only to read, then the color is not that important. But both nieces were mesmerized. They needed very little help to navigate the first time. They read for a while, but then started setting up their "desktops." That personalization is a big plus for kids. The Kindle can't do much of that in comparison.
3. New Reading Skill Development: Watching my niece read the Magic Tree House Christmas in Camelot (good choice for her first book, sis) with all the illustrations intact, and the potential for live links to other King Arthur resources, made me see the advantages for new readers. I look forward to teaching Macbeth to kids with the choice of  clicking on videos of the Olivier or MacLellan performances of the scene we're reading right in the middle of class. And for the first time, my second grade niece sat for an hour with no prompting to read. The 14-year-old mastered the highlighting and dictionary functions right away, so we know that the Nook will be a great school aid as well as fun toy. 
4. WiFi vs 3G: I have WiFi only on my Kindle. The techy side of me wants 3G, but I think I will forgo it for now. I don't need it to read, and it may just be another distraction. The girls have unmonitored internet access on their Nooks, and though that is an opportunity for the 14-year-old to learn web management skills, we are all thinking about the usefulness of that feature for a 8-year-old's incipient reading habits. I did notice that the Pandora feature on the Nook caught both girls up--for the 14-year-old, reading and listening to music at the same time seemed natural. I'm not sure if that is a great idea for the second grader. And my sister is considering the wisdom of  her daughter listening to whatever Pandora thinks is appropriate. It is a valid point.
   Overall, I am pleased as an obsessive reader to have the Kindle. As a teacher , the Nook offers an intoxicating look at the future of teaching reading strategies. The metacognitive strategy poster in my classroom is already changing as I write this.  And I still want an iPad. Now.


Anonymous said...

Kindle is still my choice! Nooks are for kids who don't have an iPhone. Kindles are for serious readers.

My Kids Active! said...

Well said - nook is a good motivator for a child that is on the cusp of "really reading". I have added a rule in our house - when you are reading on the nook - no listening to pandora. As for the internet - no access unless I am there. Thanks sis - good assessment, from your favorite "non-serious reading" sister