Heidi Homeschools: Real Books vs. Kindle

My mom homeschooled me for kindergarten. She and three other moms formed a little co-op. The four children would alternate between each other’s homes, one house per week. In addition to the standard subjects, each mom had a particular focus. One taught music, another crafts…
I’ve been wracking my brain all day, but I can’t remember the other two. What I do remember though is that all of the moms taught reading. I loved that about each one of my teachers, that they all wanted to help me learn to read. I still remember the feeling I got when I was finally able, all on my own, to read about Sally getting a skinned knee and Dick drawing a smiley face on her bandage. From that moment to this, it has been a rare time when I wasn’t in the middle of some sort of book.
I love books, but you knew that didn’t you? I love the weight of a good one in my hands, the feel of the pages, and the smell.
Nothing can compare to a real book.

Because of my book infatuation, I have resisted the idea of ebooks and e-readers for quite some time. No electronic device could take the place of my beloved pages.
Still, I kept hearing things like convenience, portability, free classics, more room on my shelves, more room in my suitcase… I was intrigued.
Last month, I caved and put a Kindle 4 on my Christmas wish list. It’s the basic model, not a touch screen, but at only $79, very affordable.
Christmas morning, I opened this little beauty:
Kindle 4
Sidenote: It’s time to give myself a manicure.
I’m happy to report that I was wrong about e-readers. I love it. Already I feel like it has made such a difference in my homeschooling. Need a book? Ten seconds to download, and boom! it’s yours. No waiting for delivery or driving over to the library or bookstore.
Most classics are part of the public domain and are free to download. Many others are inexpensive, costing only a few dollars. The Kindle has already more than paid for itself in money saved from books that we are studying this term.
Kindle 4
Having most of the books we are studying from on one device makes it so easy to school anywhere. I don’t have to lug a bunch of books from one room to another or out to the car. I just grab my one little Kindle.
Newt sometimes judges a book by its font. If the font is too small, she assumes that the book is going to be boring or hard. Unfortunately, many printed budget versions of classics are printed with a smaller font. On the kindle, I can adjust the size to something that looks easier. It may be just a trick of the mind, but it makes it so Newt feels more comfortable right up front.
Besides all of those reasons, it’s lightweight, portable, and easy to read.
The biggest problem? Looks like I’m going to need to buy one for Newt.
I don’t think ebooks will ever make printed books obsolete, but I have discovered that there is room in my heart for both.

PS: Jimmie from Jimmie’s Collage has put together this great Squidoo lens on using Kindles for homeschooling. I’m finding it very helpful and thought some of you might too.


  1. I was of the same mindset until I read a book this weekend on my iPad. It made me want to read more! I like hitting buttons to turn pages, I guess!

  2. having palpitations!
    Hubby bought me a Nook for my birthday last year even though I said I didn’t want one. It, honestly, sat there, mainly unused.
    Then a few months ago we got a Kindle Fire. I want to like it. I want to care. But I just don’t. It gets used…. by hubby when he surfs at night. For me, I just don’t see the point. One of the problems is that I really don’t know what is available out there. The other problem is that I do like holding books. The other problem is that I really don’t know how it can be useful for homeschooling. The other problem is that I am limiting Ian’s screen time and just because it’s educational doesn’t mean it’s not screen time. If his eyes are on an electronic screen, then I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter what the content is so we really use no educational software as part of lessons (we do use SpellingCity when we think of it though).

    Honestly, handhelds do make me feel anxious. I wish I could embrace them but I just can’t seem to.

  3. Yeah, it’s great to have an eReader. I love the Kindle because that’s all it is — a book reader. I don’t want all the distractions that an iPad has. Thanks for linking to the lens.
    Yes, you should buy Newt one. Sprite has one; I have my own, and my hubs uses an iPad. Works well for us.
    Research shows that reluctant readers are motivated by the larger type, so crank up that font size! It’s a great tip.

    • I’m always happy when I find out that research supports my crazy theories. Thanks, Jimmie!

  4. I agree with you- I would have never bought myself a reader, but I was secretly lusting after an ipad and my husband bought me one two Christmases ago. I would never recommend an ipad to anyone who doesn’t have a lot of computer work to do (like a photographer, graphic designer, or a personal assistant or the like) because the previous poster is right, there can be a lot of distractions on it.

    As a reader, though, there are a few things I appreciate about the ipad- I can buy books from Nook, Amazon, or ibooks (although I never use ibooks, it is useful because I can save PDF’s on it to read later) instead of being limited to one. And I can also buy magazines from Zinio (and possibly Nook now- I know they were working on it, but as of last year they didn’t have them formatted for ipads yet).

    Just generally, I love the free books as well, and most books are cheaper. I still buy actual used books at the thrift store or secondhand book store as often as I can, but when I’m looking for a specific book that isn’t always an option. And I love having it all at my fingertips. When I traveled I used to have at least two books and several magazines in my bag, which takes up a lot of space. Instead I just have my ipad now, which is nice. And I can read at night without the light on, which makes my husband happy:) And I don’t think it’s fair to consider an ereader as screen time. It’s a book. I used to be as anti all screen time when it concerned my kid, but a friend of mine made an interesting point that made a lot of sense. Technology is the way our country is headed. Seriously, name an industry that isn’t using computers, smart phones, and/or tablets now to do better. And unlike other “improvements” in the past (chemical fertilizers, plastic, etc) I think this is one that will make the world a better place. My friend made the point that the better our kids can navigate computers and technology, the better off they’ll be. So I started letting my daughter play very carefully selected learning games online (I also let her play with my iphone sometimes, and my MIL bought her a leap pad, which is actually pretty cool…). I still limit the amount of time she spends in front of a screen, but I plan to buy her an ereader when she’s older and I will definitely not limit her time on it. The more kids read, no matter the format, the better their comprehension gets. And what is the biggest stumbling block for kids to read? Access to books they like. Ereaders make it easy to preview books and have instant access. I think that more kids owning or at least having access to readers will do for reading what Harry Potter did (… get more kids doing it!).

    Whew… sorry that was so long!

    • I agree. To me, e-books are books. Just another alternative to paperback or hardbound.

  5. I decided to put a Kindle on my Christmas list last semester when a traditional textbook cost $90- and the Kindle edition was $50. Like you, I was reluctant to get one because I loved the feeling of real books. But I am loving my Kindle for all the reasons you mentioned- free classics, portable, etc.

    • I hadn’t even thought about it for textbooks, but how great would that be? More affordable, plus no lugging heavy books around!

  6. I always felt the same way. There is nothing like a real book. But I also recently bought a kindle (the same model as you, the $79 one). My original reason was because I’m becoming a college student. I’m off to school several states away in the fall and I can’t bring my beloved bookshelf with me. Nor will I be able to afford books at their full price from a store (or even sale prices). I will easily be able to bring my kindle on the plane to and from school, store all my books in one place conveniently (no cluttered dorm room!), save bucket loads of money on books, and even buy some of my college textbooks. The kindle has become a wonderful investment. I have found myself loving it for more than the original reasons I bought it. Since it’s so portable, I can bring it with me everywhere, consequently reading books anywhere and anytime. I have also really enjoyed how many free classics there are. I have been able to begin reading books that have been on my reading list for years but have never been willing to spend money on. I am almost half way through with Jane Eyre now and next I’ll read Gone With the Wind (although I did have to pay $9 for that one).

    • Jane Eyre is one of my favorites. What do you think so far?

  7. You found my link to Kindle freebies, yes? I was the same way with loving the feel/smell of books and thought I’d never want to go the e-reader route. (I had a similar argument years ago about writing letters vs email- hah!). I have something like 600 unread titles- all FREE- on my Kindle. It totally derailed my knitting because if I have time- I want to read. Mine is skinned (because I knew I’d be looking at it A LOT) and I got the cover with the light, which I absolutely LOVE. It’s like being a kid again, reading in bed with a flashlight under the covers…… and you can still plug in and read with the light while it’s charging.

    I thought about getting a Kindle Fire, and I’ve played around a bit with an IPad- for me, I just couldn’t justify it. When I’m home, if I need internet- I’m on the computer. Otherwise, in my down time, I am reading and don’t WANT anything else.

    One of the *absolute* best investments EVER. 🙂

    • Ooh, no, I haven’t seen it, but I want to. Will you drop the link here in the comments?
      I’ve got my eye on that cover. Glad for the recommendation. J

  8. Oh my YES! I LOVE my Kindle (so much I should marry it! haha). If your local public library has Over drive you can also download library books too.

    • Our library does have overdrive. I’m still figuring it out, but that’s a very exciting development! J


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