What you need to know
- Amazon introduces Reading Sidekick for Alexa-enabled Echo speakers.
- Reading Sidekick will take turns reading books with your children to help them improve their reading skills.
- Children ages six to nine will be able to choose from hundreds of books available through Amazon Kids+.
- Reading Sidekick is available now, and kids can access the feature by saying, "Alexa, let's read."
Amazon is introducing a new Alexa skill called Reading Sidekick that aims to help children improve their reading by taking turns reading books.
With Reading Sidekick, Alexa will listen to your child as they read and offer words of encouragement as they complete sentences, paragraphs, or pages. Alexa will also help your kid if they get stuck on a word, either by moving onto the next word or having the kid repeat the word after Alexa says it first.
Kids can choose from hundreds of available books in the Amazon Kids+ subscription. It can be a digital book or physical; your kid just has to say "Alexa, let's read" or "Alexa, open Reading Sidekick" and tell Alexa the name of the book they want to read.
The new feature is available on the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition (4th Gen) and some of the best Alexa speakers with the Amazon Kids+ subscription; you will have to enable Amazon Kids on your Echo Dot speaker.
While many parents are still working from home, they might not be able to give their full attention to their kids. Reading Sidekick is designed to help fill that void while giving kids ages six to nine more confidence with reading.
Dr. Michelle Martin, a Children and Youth Services Professor at the University of Washington and member of the Amazon Kids and Family Advisory Council, says that Reading Sidekick results from thorough research from Amazon.
The Amazon educational team has done due diligence to glean best practices from teachers, reading specialists, and children's literature scholars to ensure Reading Sidekick is not only engaging but backed by decades of research on literacy development.
When Reading Sidekick is enabled, children can decide how much they want to read, whether it be a little, a lot, or by taking turns reading passages. Reading "a little" gives Alexa the bulk of the reading while leaving shorter passages for the child. Alexa will take a backseat if the child decides they want to read "a lot," letting them complete multiple paragraphs or pages before Alexa steps in for a passage.
In March, Google launched a similar feature for Play Books which lets kids read along to select books, featuring tap-to-read and a visual dictionary.
Amazon is also launching new Alexa Voice Profiles for Kids to make it easier for children to access Echo speakers throughout the house. Parents will also be able to track their kids' reading progress with the Alexa app and set daily education goals.
Alexa Reading Sidekick is available now, and parents can sign up for an Amazon Kids+ subscription over at Amazon's website.
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