As we recently published, Melissa and I strongly prefer the iPad Mini over other 7″ tablets, especially for children with special needs, mostly due to Apple’s well-established app “ecosystem.” However, depending on your child’s individual needs, there are definitely reasons to consider other tablets, especially the latest-generation Kindle Fire, which offers an exclusive technology called Immersion Reading.
What is Immersion Reading?
Immersion Reading highlights words on a Kindle book as they are being read on an Audible audiobook. As a result, readers see, hear, and touch the text at the same time, which may help improve attention, concentration, fluency, and comprehension. This multisensory approach would likely benefit children who struggle with decoding, visual tracking, and visual attention, as well as children learning English as a second language.
Here is a brief look at Immersion Reading in action:
For Immersion Reading to work, the Kindle book must be WhisperSync for Voice-ready. When you log into your amazon.com account, browse to the Kindle book you want, and look for the WhisperSync for Voice icon.
For instructions on using WhisperSync for Voice with an Android device or Kindle, watch this video:
For instructions on using WhisperSync for Voice with an Apple iPad or iPod, watch this video:
Without Immersion Reading, the built-in Kindle audio relies on computer-synthesized speech and, although somewhat helpful, provides a monotonous reading experience. Immersion Reading, by contrast, leverages professionally-narrated audiobooks read by a variety of talented performers.
What Do I Need to Use Immersion Reading?
Immersion Reading requires a second-generation Kindle Fire ($159), Kindle Fire HD 7″ ($199), or Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ ($299). It does not work on the Kindle PaperWhite or other Kindle devices. Currently, Immersion Reading also does not work on Apple iOS devices via the Kindle or Audible apps.
You must purchase the Kindle book and the Audible audiobook using the same amazon.com account. Once you purchase the Kindle book, you will see the option to add the Audible audiobook (called “professional narration”). Audible offers discounts on select titles, so long as you buy the Kindle book first. According to Amazon, there are over 15,000 supported titles, with many available for free.
At CTC, we are excited about the possibilities of this technology for struggling readers, non-native English speakers, and many more. If you have any questions about this article or therapy services at Children’s Therapy Center, PSC, we’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us.
From our family to yours,
Rob Hough, MAT is a former teacher and current technology director for a large local Christian school system. Rob has over 15 years of experience in education, technology, and industry. Rob holds a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and a Rank I in Special Education with a Primary-12 Literacy/Reading Specialist Endorsement.
Rob has a professional and personal perspective when working with children because he is also the adoptive parent of a child with special needs.
For over 10 years, Children’s Therapy Center, PSC has served thousands of families in Louisville, KY, by providing high-quality therapy services and parent education.