Parents of children with chronic health conditions, physical and developmental disabilities or other special needs have shown an interest in the Amazon Kindle wireless reader as a way to stay in touch with the world while spending long hours in waiting rooms or hospital lobbies, therapist offices, camped out in parking lots waiting for children occupied nearby in education programs, sports or recreation activities - or just trying to relax before rare opportunities for sleep.
Current newspapers, magazines, internet content, books and other materials can be downloaded wirelessly to your rather expensive but attractive Kindle, and are read comfortably through a technology that mimics paper. The rather humble little electronic marvel is lighter than many paperbacks but can hold content equal to more than two hundred books. This will be an amazing tech tool for students or commuters who are not able to manage heavy books.
Kindle books can be read to children and teens who benefit from the comfort and distraction of stories during medical treatments and recovery from serious illness or surgery. Like other books and reading materials Kindle downloads also help engage brothers and sisters who may otherwise be left at loose ends while they are waiting with parents through a therapy session or treatment.
Parents often report feeling out of touch with the rest of the world during periods of their children's hospitalizations, but the availability of newspaper downloads, internet blogs and mainstream magazines may not be as attractive as browsing through available titles or wikipedia entries that relate to their children's diagnosis or treatment. WORD documents and pictures can be emailed wirelessly to the Kindle, too.
Sleepless nights often pass too slowly without a book on the nightstand or in the hospital emergency bag. The feature that allows first chapters of books to be downloaded at no cost is intriguing - parents can search out titles and read a bit on the Kindle even if they prefer to pick them up at used book stores or their local public library. Using the Amazon / Kindle search with the word 'disability' I found Chicken Soup for the Soul - Children with Special Needs and Reflections from a Different Journey - What Adults with Disabilities Wish All Parents Knew; using the search term 'children' I found many more titles relevant to families raising children with special needs.
The Kindle electronic reader is expensive enough for most families to think twice about investing in the first version of a product that seems destined to be followed by newer generations with more refined features or more moderately priced options. That being said, it seems like an ideal device for supporting families in crisis, for recreational reading, maintaining mental health and establishing real connections to the mainstream world during times when we can't carry enough support along with us. It's a fascinating item for those who love books and want to pass along a love of reading to their children.
The Kindle 2, set to be released late in February 2009, offers features including text to speech, longer battery life and expanded memory, and is lighter and thinner than the original. It will be possible to purchase the original Kindle at reduced prices from those who upgrade to the Kindle 2, unless Amazon offers a generous trade in offer. Enjoy!
Read advertised features and user reviews (scroll way down!) for the Kindle by clicking here to (slightly) support the Special Needs Children webpage.
Kindle 2: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device (Latest Generation)
Amazon Kindle DX - 9.7" Screen Wireless Reading Device
Literacy and Down Syndrome
I recently purchased a Kindle 2