Amazon’s new Reading Sidekick handles story time with the kids

Announced yesterday, Amazon’s new Reading Sidekick is a “fun, new Alexa learning experience that helps young readers build fluency and foster a love for reading.” It’s part of the Amazon Kids+ subscription, which delivers thousands of books to your child’s Kindle or Echo. The premise of Reading Sidekick? To help children, ages 6 through 9, become “strong readers” and enjoy a good book. How does it all work? Let’s take a closer look at the new Amazon Alexa Reading Sidekick.

Amazon’s new Reading Sidekick takes turns reading with your kids

Essentially, to help kids learn faster and enjoy a good book, Echo devices can now take turns with your kids as they read their favorite book. It encourages them to read a little each day, cheering them on in the progress.

“I love reading with my daughter every night before bedtime, but don’t always spend time reading together at other times,” said Jon Lyon, an Amazon employee and Dad whose 7-year old daughter tried an early preview of the Reading Sidekick experience, and an Amazon employee. “With Reading Sidekick, my daughter is reading more challenging books on her own with Alexa, and if she gets stuck on a word or gets an entire sentence wrong, Alexa is there to help. She’s having so much fun exploring new stories and figuring out tough words.”

How does Amazon Alexa Reading Sidekick work?

Your child will sit down near an Amazon Kids-enabled Echo speaker and then say, “Alexa, let’s read.” With a supported physical or digital book in hand, the child tells Alexa the book’s title, and the digital assistant will then ask whether your kid wants to read a little, a lot, or take turns.

Should they opt for “a little,” Alexa will read a majority of the time, only asking your children to take turns on shorter pages. Saying “a lot,” the child will take turns reading four sentences, paragraphs, or pages depending on the book, and Alexa will only read one. “Taking turns” allows your child and Alexa to alternate sections of equal size, either a page or paragraph.

After reading, Alexa tries to encourage your kid to keep going. The assistant even goes as far as to give assistance if your child gets stuck on a word, as it’ll provide that to them. There are hundreds of books in the Reading Sidekick library, with “hundreds more being added each month.” To start with, family-favorite books like Chica Chica Boom Boom, Milk and Cookies, Books Do Not Have Wings, and Around the World Right Now are available, just to name a few.

9to5Toys’ take

Amazon’s Reading Sidekick is a very unique offering, if I’ve ever seen one. If you would have told me a few years ago that a budget-focused smart speaker would be helping a kid learn to read, I wouldn’t have believed you. But, it seems like Amazon put quite a bit of thought into Reading Sidekick, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here. What’s next? Math help? History lessons? Soon, Alexa could be an in-home school teacher of all subjects. The technology world is moving forward at break-neck speeds, and I can’t wait to see what the next few years hold.

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