Saturday, November 9, 2013

Why iPads & Kindles Are Great Tools for Struggling Readers

It’s no secret that over the past couple of years, various types of technology have changed the way we read today. We have the renowned Kindle e-readers from Amazon and the iPads from Apple. Other technological devices have also played a big part in enhancing our reading experiences.

It may not be as well known, however, that these same tech devices can be especially helpful to struggling readers. Whether the struggle to read is the result of ADHD, dyslexia, autism or another issue, these e-readers, e-tablets, smartphones and other devices can not only promote more reading success for struggling readers, but they can also make it possible for them to read in the first place.

Why are these tech devices particularly beneficial for challenged readers of any age? We’ve gathered information here to form 2 lists, one for each tech device’s advantages for challenged readers. We hope these lists help you discover which device may be best for your reading needs or that of a child or student who struggles to read.

Some of iPad’s Benefits for Challenged Readers

• Ease of Use: It’s easy to find books at the various stores available (Kindle, Nook & iBooks.)
• Screen Quality: The iPad screen is clear, bright and eminently readable.
• Access to Text: It can also be used to access formatted text like that of a PDF document and open it in GoodReader. (
• Text to Speech (TTS) Feature: This TTS feature allows students to hear the words they read. Visually-impaired students as well as other students can benefit from this as they hear the proper pronunciation of words as they “read” texts.
• VoiceOver Feature: This feature is available for all installed apps on iPads. This is a screen reader that allows the user to point to something on the iPad and hear a description of what is at that location.
• Zoom Feature: This feature allows users to enlarge any item on the screen. The iPad also allows for connection to refreshable Braille displays using a wireless Bluetooth connection.
• Customization: A teacher, parent or other adult can customize an iPad to meet the individual needs of a reader.
(Sources: The Advantages of iPads for Special Education Students-by Denise Brown &
10 things the iPad is good for…and 5 it isn’t-by John Biggs---See links to follow.)

Some of Kindle’s Benefits for Challenged Readers

• Visual Formatting: Students with visual impairments can select the appropriate text size on a Kindle to meet their needs. (Push a button to increase or decrease font size.) This has increased engagement for many students who have difficultly seeing normal font size.
• Easy Downloading: Kindle content can easily be downloaded to the computer. This feature allows for even larger text and the ability to change the color / format. The Kindle PC option provides countless opportunities for students who require more specific text features.
• Screen Quality: The Kindle screen can also help diminish glare and “visual stress” from white page backgrounds as well as from florescent lighting for some readers.
• Text to Speech: For students who require read aloud, the Kindle is able to read any Kindle text out loud. By plugging in headphones, students can listen to books and short stories. This feature can help increase reading engagement for struggling readers and also to provide more independence to these students.
• Convenience: For students whom have difficulty flipping pages or holding open books, the Kindle provides a convenient alternative. By pushing a button, students are able to flip through pages and chapters. Additionally, for students with more severe physical disabilities, there may be some potential of connecting a switch to the Kindle.
• Organization: For students with organization troubles, the Kindle helps them out by saving the page they read.
• Dictionary Feature: The Kindle provides immediate assistance for unknown vocabulary words. By using the dictionary, which is embedded within the text, students can access texts that are at challenging reading level.
(Source: Adapted from the Kindle Project---District of Columbia Public Schools Pilot Program---See link to follow.)

Additional Resources

Why and when the iPad is the best e-reader-by Joel Mathis

Kindle Technology Helps Readers-by Rob

Can e-Readers Ease Reading for Dyslexics?-by Annie Murphy Paul

iPad vs Kindle Fire / Android Tablet for Kids---by TechAgeKids

Dyslexia on the digital page-by Jillian Rose Lim
Devices like e-readers and iPads may make reading easier for students with dyslexia

E-Readers Are More Effective than Paper for Some with Dyslexia (Research article)
by Matthew H. Schneps, Jenny M. Thomson, Chen Chen, Gerhard Sonnert & Marc Pomplun

Apps for Struggling Readers

9 Great Learn-to-Read Apps for Kids---by Common Sense Media (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch; Kindle Fire apps)

8 Apps for Struggling Adolescent Readers---by Hope Mulholland (Apple and Android apps)


Kindle Project---District of Columbia Public Schools Pilot Program

The Advantages of iPads for Special Education Students-by Denise Brown, Demand Media

10 things the iPad is good for…and 5 it isn’t-by John Biggs

For information on customizable reading tools: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of: iPad or Kindle: will our wallets decide?-by Paul Miller and
Brennan Innovators, LLC at


  1. "Hi Joan Brennan,

    Thank you for sharing this information as I really needed this one because my kids are currently into this reading program
    . It is working but I wanted my kids to have fun while learning , good thing I've found this one. Thanks and please keep on posting.

    Regards ,

    Eureka Gomez

  2. Dear Eureka,

    Many thanks for your comment. We hope you find that the resources in our post here will provide your children with enjoyable opportunities to read and learn!

    Happy reading!

    Joan M. Brennan