The earlier you can start building the reading habit, the more likely it is to grow. Parents can encourage reading through multiple ways, including finding their children’s favorite stories and making storytime a family activity.
“Reading plays a critical and foundational role in a child’s learning, creativity, social-emotional health, and cognitive development,” said Dr. Michael Rich, founder of the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Reading is where children learn to decode the written word and create characters, worlds, and new ideas of their very own. Whether the child is being read to by a loving adult or reading on their own, well-designed eBooks that encourage this process offer a near-infinite variety of imaginative and human experiences.”
Read on for some tips from reading experts like Rich on how to combine Amazon’s tools with your kids’ natural desire to learn—and how to raise little readers for life.
Help kids find their favorite entertainment genres through reading
Since many treasured books are turned into popular movies and series, video is a great way for families to experience the joy of storytelling—and a great resource for helping your kids find their next favorite book.
"Movie versions can create great learning opportunities," said Amy Kilpatrick Mascott, a children’s reading specialist and the creator of TeachMama.com. "Kids can read a chapter a night and, when the book is done, sit down with the family and watch the movie together. Parents can use the experience to build skills of comparison and a critical eye, prompting conversation about the comparative character development or setting."
As the only digital subscription for kids with thousands of books, games, videos, Alexa skills, and more, Amazon Kids+ books are curated for qualities that resonate with every reading level. Emerging readers gravitate toward expressive illustrations and loveable characters like those in the Brown Bear and Friends series. Beginning readers are often drawn to books they’ve seen on the shelves in their libraries or in their classrooms. Many older kids love fantasy, manga, and graphic novels.
"What I love about our Amazon Kids+ subscription is how simple it makes picking out books my child wants to read,” said Anna Sweeney, senior business development manager, Amazon Kids Books. “If my son is really into sharks this week, we just go in and choose a shark book. Our bedtime routine is picking out two books to read each night, and he will point out words he is learning to his 2-year-old sister and the baby on my lap."
In order to curate the themes and topics that resonate with families, the teams at Amazon Books and Amazon Kids+ speak with publishers and independent authors about the work they've done, and comb through customer rankings and teachers' picks for well-regarded titles. The teams also read many books themselves to select high-quality content that is interesting and developmentally appropriate.
“My son is just learning to read and loves books about animals. He gets especially excited when we type in an animal in Amazon Kids (usually a wildcat) and he gets to swipe through all the choices,” said Yvette Lemieux, senior manager, product management, Amazon Kids. “He definitely judges the book by the cover and always picks the most menacing animal!”
Make it a family affair
"Reading should be joyful, and kids who enjoy reading become good readers," said Sarah Funk, principal product manager, Amazon Books' Next Billion Readers. "To help make reading appealing to a broad mix of kids—readers and emerging readers alike—we think it's important to curate compelling themes to keep the content relevant, diverse, and broad enough so that all readers have some agency in their individual reading choices."
Parents can encourage reading by introducing story themes that range from social topics that help kids better understand friendship to books they’d pick up for sheer entertainment value—like the lighthearted Big Nate series that's so popular with middle schoolers today. Family libraries can also include educational themes that support required reading in schools, as well as collections of timeless classics that many parents read themselves as children.
“Reading is a big part of our bedtime routine for our three younger kids,” said Kia Fallahi, product manager, Amazon Kids. “Every night, we grab an Amazon Kids+ enabled tablet, and each kid gets to pick one book that we read as a family.”
Look for reading opportunities
Great stories are great stories, whether a child is reading, listening, or watching them unfold. And parents can be intentional in how they encourage children to experience them.
“It's important for parents to read the books that their kids are reading in school, which is not always easy for busy families,” said Mascott. “We download books on Audible and then play them while we’re driving the kids to activities.”
While not requiring the decoding of words on a page, audiobooks and Audible stories help promote a love of reading. The narration sparks the imagination of a story’s settings and characters. Absorbing tales help the listener to connect ideas and process events. For some learning abilities, it's better to listen to a book first and then read the book with greater understanding of the concept, unfamiliar words, names, and places.
Parents can use Amazon Goodreads to not only find recommendations from other readers, but also to create reading lists and track kids' progress on their reading goals. Parents can connect to a wider community of readers by rating books or writing short reviews that can help other families pick out great books.
Go beyond the page
While there's nothing that can replace the experience of a parent or caregiver sitting and reading with a child, families on the go can find many enriching ways to incorporate stories and literacy into their active lives. Today’s choices enable reading during the busy hours of getting kids to activities or dinner on the table, and also support independent reading.
“It doesn't matter whether you're reading on Kindle or listening through Audible,” said Mascott. “It just matters that you're immersed in story.”
Devices like Kindle Paperwhite for Kids are designed to keep the focus on reading by forgoing apps, videos, and games, and providing a portable library of books at a family's fingertips. In fact, the average Kindle Kids reader reads more than an hour a day. Kindle devices support emerging readers with features like Vocabulary Builder, which allows readers to look up definitions without leaving the page, and Word Wise, which gives kids hints for difficult words by offering synonyms and simple definitions while they read. Readers with dyslexia may find Kindle's OpenDyslexic font more supportive of their reading experience.
"Families care deeply about providing their children with opportunities to grow and learn in their own way," said Funk. "It’s important to us to make it easy to discover compelling stories that resonate, along with great options for helping their kids experience it."