Before we get into this discussion let me remind you of some variables that you need to know. First, I am dyslexic and have some difficulty some days reading off ink and paper. No, I don't know why. Words at either end of the sentence tend to "float" and on my worst day (which I haven't had for some time now), the whole paragraph wants to move around. I also miss words or "see" different words. In recent years I believe my reading habits to be improved. Does age mitigate dyslexia--I don't know.
Secondly, I like technology. Unabashed enjoyment of the new electronic world--although I don't know how to use much of it. But it is fascinating. But color me biased in this area. When I bought my first MacPlus computer, the little black on gray screen with a calc, data base, and word processing on it and when I booted it up and saw what it could do, I cried. I remember moving away from the coffee table where my wife and I had set it up so my tears would not hit the keyboard. Weird, eh? The reason for my emotional outburst was that the screen was so EASY to read. Nothing moved and it was easy to read--did I say that already. LIfe suddenly got much easier--here I was a college professor in a profession that had to publish or perish. Writing amazingly got easier with that MacPlus. It was seeing what I wrote that became important. At that time I thought why can't all books be put on my computer? Hence, my articles about how it was now time to print all materials to the computer. I'm sure you know the reaction of most librarians. "What do you mean get rid of books!" And, it wasn't just librarians--most people wanted to have a book. My articles went nowhere. In fact there was so much negativity to my thoughts that I abandoned the idea--but I kept it in the back of my mind. I did watch children and young adults with dyslexia read better and easier on a computer screen but I really didn't have research enough to say anything.
Let me get to the major point of this blog. I got a Kindle for Christmas! I've wanted one for some time. I got the Kindle 2 and I have been more then pleased. Actually I am ecstatic. I have read several books this week (psssst, THIS WEEK) among them Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin and first published in 1813. I didn't know the latter. And she didn't have a computer to write it on--my oh my. I enjoyed it immensely. Now I plan to read Jerome Jerome's "Three Men In A Boat--Not To Say Nothing of The Dog." I have read this book a number of times, one of my favorite. I want to see if reading it on the Kindle will change my reaction.
Holding it is easy. It is light weight and the black on gray screen is as easy to read as anything I have--including the old MacPlus. It does need light so reading under the covers as I did as a child will still require a flashlight. But it is easy reading. And you can change the size of the font. You want bigger words.....or smaller words. Just change them to what you want. Do you want less words in a sentence line? You can do that as well. Now here is a perfectly good research project for a graduate student. Find out what do children prefer in the number of words per line--I never thought much about that.
But there are those, many my close friends who say they want to feel the book. HA! I have the answer....a good one. I bought a leather cover for my Kindle. It is a beautiful cover and it changes how the Kindle feels when reading it. And you can turn back the cover and have this soft felt feel to your Kindle. Pretty cool. I wanted the cover for protection but I really enjoy how it feels when I hold it to read. So for those who want the feel of a book, buy a cover.
Downloading books to the Kindle is a piece of cake. You find the book that you want and then just order it. Many books are free but New York Times book list books and ones like those normally cost $9.99. Since I've had this device only about a week and a half, I have not explored too far--I've been reading! But I did download the "Three Men in a Boat" from the Gutenberg project, a program to digitalize all books that are past the copyright dates. They are all free but my survey has been limited to just a few places so far.
At the moment, I believe that the Kindle could be an amazing device for schools. Textbooks, reading books, library books would be much, much cheaper for schools to supply to their students. But as I did in the seventies, I can see many applications in everyday life for a Kindle. Let me take it to my boat and look up maintenance projects where I can hold the Kindle and look at the project in hand. However, my main thoughts are to go to the boat, get comfortable and read. A quiet place to enjoy my reading.
I'll have more to say about the Kindle as I become more familiar with it. I'm still just a beginner. But it is exciting. And to the lady teacher in Harrison, New York who understood I did not fathom how to read using the phonics method, taught me another way to read, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You must have been an amazing teacher. And to those who designed and invented the Kindle, you also have my gratitude. Everlasting.
Have you thanked a teacher lately?