Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Round up #300: best books, books on buses

June 25, 2015

Round up #300: best books, books on buses

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

That’s right…300!

Wow! This is the 300th round-up! The first one was on October 24th, 2009. Let’s see, that means I have averaged…just about one a week (one every 6.9 days). That seems about right. I have a lot of fun doing them, and they are often a way for me to make a quick mention of something which I can’t (at least at that time) expand into its own post.

There are also times when it lets me let you know about something before I feel like I’ve really explored it. I might hear about something complicated, or controversial, and not be ready to give an evaluation…but still want you to be informed.

Amazon’s Best Books of the Year So Far

Amazon has announced their

Best Books of the Year So Far (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They didn’t just name ten or twenty…here is the list:

  • Best Books of the Year So Far
  • Amazon Editors’ Top 20 (15)
  • Amazon Editors’ Top 20 Children’s Books (20)
  • Arts & Photography (20)
  • Audiobooks (16)
  • Biographies & Memoirs (19)
  • Business & Leadership (20)
  • Children’s Books (100)
  • Comics & Graphic Novels (16)
  • Cookbooks, Food & Wine (20)
  • Crafts, Hobbies & Home (20)
  • Fashion (15)
  • History (19)
  • Humor & Entertainment (20)
  • Kindle Singles (20)
  • Literature & Fiction (16)
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense (19)
  • Nonfiction (18)
  • Romance (13)
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy (17)
  • Teens & Young Adults (20)

Their top book overall?

H is for Hawk (at AmazonSmile*)
by Helen Macdonald
4.2 stars out of 5 | 384 customer reviews

Two updates

On my Kindle Fire HDX, it’s clear that there has been some (minor?) update to the Amazon Kindle reader. I’m at 9.9, and I’ve noticed a couple of changes.

When I tap the top middle of the page to bring up the menus, a little thumbnail of the cover now appears.

The other thing is that the text-to-speech (something I use every day) play arrow is on the right when it used to be on the left.

Doesn’t sound like much, but that’s all I’ve noticed so far.

The other update was to my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It looked like a system update…but it was showing Voice Input. I’m not noticing any difference, and I did test it with a few things. Still, it’s nice to see the Fire Phone still getting love. ;)

Books on Buses

I love it when adults read, but I do think it’s important and special when people take steps to encourage children to read. According to this

WDBJ7 by Jean Jadhon

the city of Roanoke, Virginia is doing a summer reading program on city buses.

There will be book bags at the front of the buses.

Parents (hopefully, legal guardians) with children can take a bag. It will have five books in it…and they can even take a book home, sort of like a library. They would bring it back later.

I think that’s great!

This was my favorite part of the whole article, though:

“I love reading books!” children chanted as they stood outside the Roanoke City Main Library Monday.”

:)

The future is bright…

Amazon Echo mini-round up

The

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

went on public pre-order yesterday. I will be covering it as part of this blog, but yesterday’s post just on it was an anomaly. :) A few notes…

  • The return policy wasn’t on the product page…I was assuming it was thirty days, like Kindles and  Fires, but it isn’t. It’s 180 days! That’s right…about six months
  • There are now over 20,000 reviews…still average 4.5 stars
  • Somebody asked, so I checked: yes, it works with a synthesized voice. That can be important for people with certain challenges who need to use a synthesizer
  • I liked that it knew the appropriate response to, “Alexa:  Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”
  • There are still pop culture questions and answers I think it should know…and I may set up something to inform Amazon. For example, I asked it today, “Alexa: who knows what evil lurks within the hearts of men?” The appropriate answer, of course, is “The Shadow knows…” followed by a maniacal laugh. I think people would really like it when the Echo said something like, “Ha haha haha” for the laugh :)

When is an average not an average?

I have to say, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this.

According to this

CNET article by Ben Fox Rubin

and other sources, Amazon is changing its review system.

Certainly, the current system is flawed. There have been a lot of problems with…biased reviews, even ones which have apparently been purchased. For example, a company might give you a free copy of a book, if you are willing to write a five star review of it.

Amazon’s approach is going to be to use “machine learning” to put more weight on more popular and more recent reviews.

In terms of moving them up higher on the page, I have no problem with that. We’ve had those “most useful” reviews for a while.

What concerns me is that those weightings will affect the average of stars (which I often report…I did it on the Macdonald book above, for example).

I’m going to guess that the specific algorithm is not going to be revealed…so we will no longer know what 4.5 stars really means.

I’d be okay with it with the option to see either one…unweighted or weighted.

I’d also like to see an option to see the difference between Amazon Verified Purchase reviews and non-verified…that seems like useful data.

However, let’s just make something up. :)

Let’s say (and again, I have no reason to think these are the numbers) that reviews posted in the last week are worth twice as much as older reviews.

A book had five reviews which were all three stars more than a week ago.

Now, the publisher gets five people to put in five star reviews all at once.

The older reviews are worth 15 “points”. The new ones are worth 50 points (five reviews of five stars times two).

That makes the average 6.5 stars…on a scale of 1 to 5. :) Presumably, they’d round down to 5 stars.

It would appear the book had a perfect score, despite earlier mediocre reviews.

Now, it could certainly be argued that the newer reviews may be more valid. What if the publisher updated the book, fixing mistakes, and even adding new material?

I just don’t like that I’ll never know what the average actually means, and that I won’t be comparing apples to apples. They may all use the same algorithm, but one review getting votes as useful (when those votes might actually be because the review is well written) could raise the average on a book over another equally liked book.

What do you think? Do you like the new review system? If not, what should Amazon do about the review system, if anything? How about books on buses? Can you think of other ways for cities to encourage reading…and does the choice of the books by the government concern you? What are your best books published in 2015 so far? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Taking away a child’s reading “privileges”

June 11, 2015

Taking away a child’s reading “privileges”

For a child, is reading a privilege…or something else?

After reading this

Publishers Weekly article by Josie Leavitt

I am making a Vulcanian effort to control my emotions as I write this post. Like Mr. Spock, I am using mental discipline to reassert the dominance of my logical processes over my irrational response.

That reaction is one of horror, disgust, even making a mad dash over the cliff towards anger (which is a plunge I very, very rarely take).

What’s causing that?

A parent punishing a “willful” child by taking away reading “privileges”…for a week.

Having raised a child, I understand the frustration that can lead you to try to find another way to influence behavior.

Some people introduce a negative into the child’s environment to try to change something. That could be yelling, for example, or threatening something (sometimes hyperbolic…”Do you want me to turn this car into the oncoming traffic?”).

Another option is to promise something good for good behavior.

A third way is to take something pleasant out of the child’s life.

I remember doing that.

My Significant Other and I agreed that we would never take away our child’s (literal) security blanket (named “Stripes”), and we never did.

One time, though, I took away a favorite videotape (Parachute Express).

Honestly, I don’t even remember if that was effective.

It had a big emotional effect, sure, but I don’t recall if it actually changed the behavior. It wasn’t for a long period of time, and the tape just went into the garage temporarily.

It did change the situational balance in the short term, though, I remember that.

Take away reading?

Never.

I would never do that.

Reading is a positive…not only a huge positive for the child in the long run, but a benefit for the adults even in the short run.

What child is misbehaving while reading a book?

Maybe they aren’t participating in the way you want in something (some families have “no reading at the dinner table” policies…of course, not many families eat that way any more, I think), but they aren’t actively doing something wrong.

I think one issue here for me is the question of how fragile is the desire to read? Could you break a child’s habit of reading by doing something like this, or, like the Jurassic Park dinosaurs, will reading find a way to survive?

Many adults would testify…you can be a serious reader, and then get to a situation where you aren’t. Starting up again is like having been a runner, taking a break for two years, and then trying to run a marathon straight off. Reading takes commitment, it takes effort…you need to withdraw to some extent from other things to do it, and there are a lot of temptations.

The parents in this case weren’t, I’m sure, trying to send a message that reading is bad. However,  for the child, that association seems apparent to me. “I’ve been bad, I’ve been reading, they are taking away my reading, and now, apparently, I’m good…so I shouldn’t read.”

A child (this is a nine-year old) is going to assume that a parent is trying to protect them…if they remove something from the environment, it must be because it is a negative, not because it is a positive.

Children should always be encouraged to read, not discouraged from it.

That’s true even if they are reading things you think are silly (geeks like me really understand that).

Nothing will empower your child more, or make them more empathetic, in my opinion, than reading.

Okay, I think I’m calmed down at this point…my breathing is back to a normal respiration rate. ;)

I do want to mention that this child was really into reading

The Hardy Boys (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

(the PW post is written by the child’s bookseller). I love that it is an older series like that that was helping this child build a bright future in and for the world as a reader.

What do you think? Would stopping a child from reading ever be an appropriate action?  Can a guardian make a child a reader? Can a guardian break a child from being a reader…and if so, how hard would that be to do? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

New! Kindle for Kids bundle

May 29, 2015

New! Kindle for Kids bundle

Amazon sent me an e-mail about this one, and it’s an interesting combination:

Kindle for Kids Bundle with the latest Kindle, 2-Year Accident Protection, Blue Kid-Friendly Cover (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They are setting this up for being “in time for summer”, and it is that. :)

Honestly, I think a lot of kids become life long readers during the summer. That’s an interesting debate, and perhaps for another time…but I think kids are more likely to get into the habit when they are “free range reading”, rather than when they are following a curriculum which requires book reports or other analysis.

What do you get for $99?

You get the latest generation of the entry level Kindle, the one I call the “Mindle Touch”. That’s normally $79 for the ad-supported model (“with Special Offers”), but this is without the ads…so that would be $99 right there.

You also get a cover in a choice of five colors:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Pink
  • Green
  • Purple

The say the cover is worth $19.99.

The third thing is a Square Trade extended 2-year warranty, also worth $19.99.

Amazon says you are saying $39.98…they actually are wrong. :) Since you are getting it without the ads, you are saving $59.98 ($20 for the ad-free version, plus getting the cover and the warranty).

I’ll alert them to that…maybe they mean it is the ad-supported version, but I don’t think so.

Then, the page does a nice job of going into the benefits of Kindle FreeTime (which is free on the device). That lets parents/legal guardians do a lot of things…control which books are accessible, set goals, kids can get badges…it’s nice. :)

They also say that kids can search with images, rather than words…they can apparently tap an image of a princess or a dinosaur to search the book. I’d be very interested in seeing those images, and what cultural choices they made. One obvious question: can they search for a prince, or just a princess? When they search for a car, what does it look like?

Gee, I wonder if Amazon will ever have those images be sponsored…so kids click on Sleeping Beauty for a princess (and Disney pays for the privilege) or a SmartCar for the car ;) Pure speculation, folks….nothing behind the curtain. ;)

At the bottom of the page, they recommend some specific books.

I do think this is a good deal.

I would say it is most appropriate for younger kids. If I was looking at responsible ten-year old, and I could afford it, I’d go with the

Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and a family subscription to

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

However, that would be quite a bit more money. I’d be okay with them seeing ads (I’d lock down the purchasing with the parental controls anyway), so that’s $119 for the device. I’d recommend some sort of cover. We like the Fintie covers

Fintie Kindle Paperwhite SmartShell Case – The Thinnest and Lightest Leather Cover for Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Both 2012 and 2013 Versions with 6″ Display and Built-in Light) (at AmazonSmile*)

That model is $13.99 at time of writing…and comes in forty colors and patterns, some of which are perhaps more kid friendly than the single color style of the bundle cover.

It would depend on the kid, I suppose, but I’d skip the warranty in most cases.

Still, that’s a lot more money…plus the $9.99 a month for KU.

Part of it depends on how soon you think you’ll need to replace the device. I think the Paperwhite is a fine device, and could last a child for several years…but it might depend a bit on what gets introduced in the future and how “necessary” that seems. ;)

If you just to really introduce a younger, active child to reading, Amazon’s bundle is worthy of consideration.

Bonus story: Amazon is now doing free same day delivery in fourteen metro areas for Prime members. It’s not every item (but they let you filter search results for eligible items), and you need to have at least $35 worth of items and order by noon (typically). If same day isn’t available, you get free one-day delivery.

Yowza!

That’s quite an improvement at no additional cost for Prime members where it is logistically possible.

The fourteen metro areas (you still need to be in an eligible ZIP** code) are:

  • Seattle/Tacoma
  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego
  • Phoenix
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth
  • Indianapolis
  • Tampa Bay Area
  • Atlanta
  • Washington D.C.
  • Baltimore
  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • Boston

You can check your individual ZIP code here:

Amazon Free Same-day Shipping (at AmazonSmile*)

Our adult kid is eligible! We aren’t. Still, it’s the recipient ZIP code that matters, so we could send something the same day.

For more information, here are the

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) (at AmazonSmile*)

I realize there are some reasons you might still go to the local store (trying on clothes, or something which isn’t eligible for this, or it’s under $35)…but I do think this will cut into local stores somewhat.

What do you think? How long do you expect a Kindle to last nowadays? Is a Paperwhite worth that much more than a Mindle Touch? How young a child would you let have access to Kindle Unlimited…recognizing, of course that children vary a lot? Would you buy the warranty? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

**ZIP is actually an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan, so it should be all in capitals

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #295: greedy readers, living tree book

May 13, 2015

Round up #295: greedy readers, living tree book

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Piers Anthony for the Kindle

Piers Anthony is one of the most popular fantasy writers.

Many people have read the Xanth books, which some liken to the Oz series. Certainly, a love of puns is a commonality. ;)

There are 206 (!) titles listed on

Piers Anthony Amazon Author Central page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and 78 in Kindle editions (including books in the uber-popular Xanth series, the Incarnations of Immortality series, and the Bio of a Space Tyrant series).

Interestingly, there are 49 available through

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

including some well-known ones (Chthon, and yes, some Xanth).

Piers Anthony is a fun read! If you haven’t tried it, and you are looking for something light for the summer (or the Memorial Day weekend), this is a good bet. I would also guess Anthony has made readers out of many children.

An interesting consequence of having the Echo: listening to more audio

I consider myself a content omnivore, consuming lots of different media.

In the car, I usually listen to text-to-speech (TTS) on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile)

However, I used to listen to other types of audio a lot more: talk radio, old time radio, and music.

Having the

Amazon Echo

has meant that I’ve started to listen to audio at home again. For example, I’ve had it play the talk radio station to which I used to listen. I still don’t like the amount of ads, and I pick my times so I tend to get news, but it’s nice to have the local information.

I’ve also had it play me

The Kindle Chronicles

by Len Edgerly.

Review: The Kindle Chronicles podcast

It’s a brilliant podcast about the Kindle…gentle, insightful, and with really major guests.

I’ve been on it a couple of times, although I did make a slip of the tongue once which I suspect has kept me off the guest list since. ;)

Regardless, I highly recommend it…but wasn’t much of a podcast listener. Too much work to download a podcast and listen to it.

Being able to just say, “Alexa, The Kindle Chronicles podcast on Tunein,” and have it start playing is great! No charge, no booting up…I can easily start it during my exercise routine.

Living tree book

One TLA (Three Letter Acronym…we geeks even have an acronym for acronyms) ;) you may see in Kindle discussions is DTB…which stands for “Dead Tree Book” meaning a paperbook. I prefer the term “p-book”, since it gives parity to “e-book” (although nobody seems to use “a-book” for audiobook).

There are some ecological challenges with e-books, certainly, but I many are uncomfortable with the harvesting of trees that happens for most p-books.

Now, there is a p-book you can plant…and it becomes a tree!

This

Huffington Post article by Kimberly Yam

has a video of it.

You can get it from Amazon:

MI PAPA ESTUVO EN LA SELVA (at AmazonSmile*)

Gee, for some reason, you can physically plant isn’t available as an e-book. ;)

More reading, more money

Do you think Gordon Gekko, the fictional character who famously said, “Greed is good,” stopped reading for fun by the age of 17?

No way!

Okay, “fun” might have meant The Art of War and The Prince, but still. ;)

This is a great infographic (and introduction):

Reading Among Teenagers is Declining

from EBOOK FRIENDLY and the ever-reliable Piotr Kowalczyk.

It’s about the

BookUp program

from the National Book Foundation.

That’s a free program to get children reading more.

The numbers may be truly startling.

If I told you that one out of four children had stopped reading for fun by the age of 17, you might just say, “See? That’s what all this technology and SmartPhones has done to us!”

I think you’d be right to be worried…but we’re just getting started.

Well, that’s the number from thirty years ago.

The number today?

Fifty percent!

Half of kids aren’t reading for fun by the age of seventeen.

Part of it may be not seeing it as an economic benefit…when it clearly is.

Sure, it may be that kids who read more or who have lots of books in the home may have other benefits as well…they don’t say if they’ve controlled for that.

However, since you can get books for free (from the public library…and tens of thousands of e-books are free), it’s hard to argue that it isn’t worth a try.

I’ll just quote one thing:

“Reading for pleasure increases GPA more than required school reading.”

I’m not quite sure how you would come to that conclusion: where is the control group that didn’t have required school reading?

Regardless, I think that reading for fun makes people more empathetic (there are studies which support that), and I think that can be helpful in advancing in the work place.

Books Aren’t Dangerous

This seems like a great campaign, but I’ll caution you, I don’t know the bona fides of it yet.

http://booksarentdangerous.com/

According the site (with details to follow later), you post (this is on Tumblr, so I assume you have to do it on Tumblr) a picture of yourself holding a book that changed your life (or that you would recommend) with the hashtag, #booksarentdangerous.

When you do that

“For every picture posted, a book will be donated to an underserved school or library.”

This goes from May 12th-May 26th.

I’ll point out that there isn’t a cost to do this (outside of the exposure), and whether books actually get donated or not, you could positively impact other people.

I only see four posts so far, and only three of them during the program…I’ll check back on it to see if it increases. I’d love to not only see more schools getting books, but to see what books people post.

What do you think? What’s your favorite Piers Anthony book/series? If you read an author first in Kindle Unlimited, have you then gone on to buy books by that author? I’ve suggested before that I think e-books are increasing reading, but the infographic cited above refutes that…which way do you think it is going? What’s the right motivation to get kids to read? What’s the societal impact if kids are indeed not reading books as much? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #292: literally embarrassed, hey kid stop reading!

April 27, 2015

Round up #292: literally embarrassed, hey kid stop reading!

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

It’s not as dangerous as not reading on the bus!

Look, I’ve read pretty much everywhere in my life. Okay, no, I don’t read when I’m driving a car (but I do listen to text-to-speech). However, planes, trains, and automobiles (as a passenger)? Absolutely!

I did have a friend who got stitches once…riding a bicyble and reading a book. Glanced up from the book, and hit a parked truck.

Still, this

Galleycat story by Dianna Dilworth

really gets my goat!

It’s about a schoolbus driver in Canada who has asked an eight-year old to stop reading on the bus!

Never, ever, ask someone to stop reading…especially children.

The bus driver apparently thinks it is dangerous.  According to the story, “The bus driver claims that other students might want to see what she is reading and stand up or that she might get hurt herself if the corner of the book pokes her in the eye.”

Puh-lease!

I hope to Hemingway that other students want to see what the student is reading! Maybe they’ll start reading themselves. :)

As to getting “poked in the eye”…um, what is this kid doing, reading the book sideways? I would guess every one of my readers had gotten a book in the face at some point (falling asleep, for example), and it’s never a corner.

Nobody else has other “pokey” things? Maybe not…don’t want to presume.

When I was in school, we had some ridiculous safety rules passed. You couldn’t bring troll dolls to school…because you might choke on the hair. Mind you, these were at least fourth graders. You couldn’t wear the big Batman buttons (Bang! Pow!) because you might get poked by the pin back (okay, that’s possible…but not likely). You couldn’t bring

Clackers

(two balls connected by string that you rhythmically swung into each) because they might shatter.

Yes, yes, those things could happen…but really, we all felt they were denied because they were distracting, not because they were unsafe. I mean, we had a jungle gym and monkey bars, right? They weren’t all that concerned about our safety. ;)

Oh, you don’t often see me get riled up like this, and I’m smiling while I’m writing it, even though I think it’s a serious issue.

I shall meditate this evening on how I can frame it for myself that the bus driver has a legitimate point…but I’m not there yet. :)

Oh, and I remember Dr. Dean Edell (I think it was) talking about distracted driving rules…I think it was banning even hands free cellphone calls. The doctor made the point that we would save a ton of lives each year if we made people wear crash helmets in cars, the way we do on motorcycles, but that’s not going to happen. That doesn’t meant that talking on a cellphone is good…it obviously raises distraction levels…as does talking to another person in the car and listening to the radio…

This me, soapbox…getting off now. :)

Fire TV vs. Fire TV Stick…round two

Not too long, I wrote about our

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

working noticeably better than our

Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

One of my regular readers, Tom Semple, suggested that it might have to do with the placement of the devices in the house.

Well, with a recent update, the Fire TV can connect with Bluetooth headphones…and the Fire TV Stick can’t (at least, it doesn’t have the choice in the same place).

That got me to switch the to devices…putting the Fire TV in the family room. That’s where I work out in the morning, and I’ve been watching CNN while I do that on closed captioning…at least, the part where I can’t do it while reading on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I figured having Bluetooth headphones and listening to news apps would work better.

I’d never used Bluetooth headphones, by the way. I chose a second product from Arctic. I’d recently bought the

ARCTIC Breeze Mobile USB-Powered 92mm Portable Fan, Portable Cooling Solution, Quiet Fan – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for $7.99.

My office at work is stuffy, and this has been a wonderful thing…and it’s quiet enough that I can have it on during conference calls or while on a Webex.

So, I thought I’d try their

ARCTIC P324 BT (Black) – Bluetooth (V4.0) Headset with Neckband – Headphones with integrated Microphone – Perfect for Sport (at AmazonSmile*)

Again, that’s relatively inexpensive, but I’m pleased. I can’t tell yet how durable they will be, but both the fan and the headphones are serviceable. I’m not a fan of earbuds, and even though my Significant Other said these over-the-ear models made me look like Princess Leia ;) I like them.

It’s also a little weird getting used to how they go on your head (not over the top of your head, but across the back of them), but they seem to stay even when I’m moving around. The range was pretty good, too…and it really surprised me that someone could hear me okay when making a phone call. The microphone is on the earpiece…not sticking out in front by my mouth.

Listening to music on Bluetooth headphones from your Fire would be nice, too.

Anyway… :)

Having switched the two devices, it still seems to me like the Fire TV is much better than the Fire TV Stick, although the latter is also a good device. The Fire TV is faster in loading something (like Hulu or Netflix), and doesn’t have the performance issues I get sometimes with the stick. They are both worth the price, in my opinion…but the Fire TV is worth the higher price. ;)

Imagine how much more embarrassing it would be if they were reading on the bus! ;)

This is an interesting

World Book Day infographic reproduced in a Publishing Perspectives article by Hannah Johnson

As regular readers know, I’m not that visually oriented, but there were some interesting statistics here.

One was that 18% of children 8-11 said they would be embarrassed if their friends saw them reading. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that we can conclude that 82% would be proud. It could be that a large percentage are neutral on it…perhaps because many of them don’t read, but I hope that’s not the case.

Another interesting assertion was that children with more than 500 books in their homes had language skills on average two years ahead of kids with fewer than ten books in their homes. Gee, I wonder how having hundreds of thousands of books available to you through the Kindle store impacts it? Do they read at super genius level? ;) Seriously, even without paying for Kindle Unlimited (which would get you access to nearly a million (945,365 at time of writing in the USA) books, there are more than 50,000 free books you can own. I do think that opportunity probably makes a difference.

Cute Kobo cartoon

I thought this one from Kobo was cute:

https://twitter.com/kobo/status/592090412728233984/photo/1

What do you think? Is it dangerous to be reading a book on a school bus? What should the parents do in that situation, if anything? Convince me that the school bus driver has a legitimate concern…please. :) What about reading at the dinner table? That was always okay in my house growing up…at least, I like to remember it that way. :) We also had to say how our day was, so we did interact. Were you ever embarrassed to be seen reading when you were a kid? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #288: reading to adults, Tik Tok, Echo trick

March 9, 2015

Round up #288: reading to adults, Tik Tok, Echo trick

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Want to  move up your Echo delivery date? Here’s how!

Big, big thanks to E S who, in this

Amazon Kindle forum thread (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

suggested a way to speed up your

Amazon Echo

estimated delivery date!

It worked for me, and others have said it worked for them, too.

Don’t know if it will continue to work, or if it will work for everybody, but I wanted to share it.

The Echo is Amazon’s ambient computing device…it’s alway on (it plugs into the wall), you talk to it, and it does stuff. ;) That’s, you know, the technical description.

It’s not on general sale, yet. You have to ask for an invitation, and you have to be an Amazon Prime member.

When I got my acceptance to my delivery date (a long time after asking for an invitation), it was months in the future.

Until I tried this trick, it was not until the end of May at the earliest…and possibly into July! =:o

Now, it’s between March 25th and April 9th…more than two months earlier, and maybe three!

How do you do it?

Go to

http://www.amazon.com

or

http://smile.amazon.com/

Click or tap on

Your Account

then go to

Your Orders.

Find your Echo order…there is a searchbox, if you need it.

Click or tap

Order Details

Click or tap

Change Shipping Speed

Don’t worry, you aren’t actually going to change it.

When your choices come up, just confirm your current shipping speed.

That’s all it took for me!

I’m very excited about the Echo! They keep making improvements (it recently started doing some sports scores), and it seems to have quite a “personality”.

The general estimated shipping time has dropped from four to six months to two to three months.

That portends, perhaps, a summer release, although that might just still be for these pre-release orders.

Thanks, E S!

Speaking of AmazonSmile…

From what I can tell, about 25% of the activity driven by this site is at AmazonSmile, as opposed to Amazon.com.

I hope to keep seeing that increase.

All you have to is shop at

http://smile.amazon.com/

and designate a non-profit to benefit from what you are doing.

That’s it.

Everything else is the same: same credit card information, addresses, wish lists…it’s really seamless.

When you buy items (not all items, but a lot), your designated non-profit (which you can change…easily…whenever you want and repeatedly) gets half a percent. Spend $100, and the group gets fifty cents.

Amazon is actually donating it, so they get the tax benefit…but that also means everything is super easy.

There are over 6,000 organizations listed when I search for the word “literacy”, for example.

I used to be on the board of a non-profit…believe me, every little bit helps.

Just something to consider…

Goodreads app update

On my

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping)

the Goodreads on Kindle app just updated to 1.5.0.

Goodreads is a very popular social reading site, which Amazon owns.

They have been improving the way it interacts with our devices, and this was another step forward.

I think I’m finally getting into the habit of using Goodreads, although I still don’t do it all the time.

I’d found out from my readers that my posting reviews here wasn’t one of their favorite things, so I now post them at Goodreads:

Follow Bufo’s reviews on Goodreads

I am putting some effort into those, and have written things with which I’ve been satisfied. ;)

I’ve also gotten some nice feedback, which I appreciate.

I can’t say I’m seeing a lot of functional differences at this point, but it does seem to look a bit nicer, and it’s running quite smoothly.

Before there was Chappie, there was…Tik Tok

Chappie did not have a really big opening this weekend…I probably over “invested” in the movie in my

The $100 Million Box Office Challenge

game. :)

Still, so many things go back to the Oz series (I’m a big fan), and there was a regular robot character in them.

Tik Tok was truly a robot…a manufactured item. Dorothy or other people would wind up the “device”…they could separately wind up speech, action, and thinking.

Yes, just like humans, Tik Tok was capable of speaking and acting without thinking first. ;)

Tik Tok, though, was artificially intelligent…as much a character as anybody else.

As Dorothy engraved on Tik Tok, the mechanism was:

SMITH & TINKER’S
Patent Double-Action, Extra-Responsive,
Thought-Creating, Perfect-Talking
MECHANICAL MAN
Fitted with our Special Clockwork Attachment.
Thinks, Speaks, Acts, and Does Everything but Live.

Sure, the word “robot” comes from the play R.U.R., and Isaac Asimov created the all important three laws of robotics…but like many other things, Oz was exploring the issues of the technology and the sociology of it at the turn of the 20th Century.

Even older kids like having books read to them

I still like it when somebody reads out loud to me!

Thanks to

EBOOK FRIENDLY

for the heads up on this fascinating report:

http://www.scholastic.com/readingreport/

Scholastic publishes the Harry Potter books in the USA. They are very reader friendly…when we talk about the Big Five publishers not doing things (like being part of Kindle Unlimited), Scholastic isn’t part of that…despite having some very popular books.

I haven’t read the whole report yet, but this was called out:

“When it comes to being read aloud to at home, eight in 10 children (83%) say they love(d) or like(d) it a lot:”

  • 6-8 year olds: 86%
  • 9-11 year olds: 84%
  • 12-14 year olds: 80%
  • 15-17 year olds: 83%

Note that rebound in the last age group!

That’s right…83% of teenagers like it when someone reads out loud to them. My guess is that the percentage is not much lower in adults.

By the way, Scholastic used “read aloud to” as a construction.

That reminds me of an old joke (?) designed to make grammarians cringe:

A ten-year old is sick upstairs.

Wanting to make the child feel better, a parent brings a book to the room to read…one that the child loved at an earlier age.

Feeling as though they are being treated as immature, the child says,

“What did you bring that book I didn’t want to be read to out of up here for?”

;)

What do you think? Do you read out loud to adults? If you are an adult, do you enjoy that…maybe in the car, maybe a Significant Other just reading a passage to you? Do audiobooks or text-to-speech have at all that same feeling for you? Do you use AmazonSmile? If not, care to share the reason why? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

 Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Round up #287: Barnes & Noble now, PTA powered by Kindle

March 4, 2015

Round up #287: Barnes & Noble now, PTA powered by Kindle

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

National PTA Family Reading Experience powered by Kindle

Amazon sent me an e-mail about this one, and it is fascinating!

March is National Reading Month, and while I’d like to see a lot more adults reading a lot more books, the focus is mostly on children.

The National PTA (Parent Teacher Association) has a program called the Family Reading Experience…and Amazon and the Kindle are quite involved in it:

http://www.pta.org/familyreading

In fact, I was intrigued by how involved.

This isn’t just a passive “throw some money at the problem”.

EBRs (E-Book Readers) are touted on the infographic about what encourages children to read.

Perhaps more interesting was this video, linked on the PTA page:

National PTA Family Reading Experience Engages Families in Literacy (video)

I’ve never seen a better recommendation for the Kindle as a positive force for literacy.

Recently, Amazon has gotten particularly good at promoting non-Fire Kindles for use for kids…see this page:

http://www.amazon.com/KindleforKids (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble

While sailing on the sea of commerce, Barnes & Noble has been struggling to stay afloat.

They’ve certainly been trying different things, and they aren’t sunk yet.

That’s despite the NOOK, which has been a drag on their sales for some time.

We had heard that they were going to separate the NOOK business into a separate business…throw the anchor overboard.

Well, now, as reported in this

Slate post by Alison Griswold

and other sources, they’ve decided to throw the boat overboard and keep the anchor. ;)

What do I mean by that?

They are going to spinoff the Barnes & Noble Education business (the college bookstores, mostly) into its own publicly traded business.

press release

Why would they do that, when the college businesses have been the part of the three part business (college, NOOK, and retail) that is doing well? Is it because Amazon has started to move more into the college bookstore business, and there are other challengers? I don’t think so.

They way they are doing it, it is a boon to stockholders (who get stock in the new company), and that’s a good thing right now. Since they made the announcement, the stock has jumped more than 7%.

Second, well…I think it’s possible that they may want to dump the losing parts and keep that one.

Yep, sell off the bookstores…I could see that happening.

As to the NOOK…I don’t see them getting out of the e-book business, but they might get out of the branded hardware business.

Speaking of which…

They’ve also completely revamped their NOOK for Android app:

press release

Shopping will be easier (I do find that clunky even in Amazon’s Kindle store on a Fire), and you’ll be able to set up profiles and individual shelves.

I could see this kind of strategy continuing to work for the near future.

Sell books on other people’s devices, and work on the user interface so it’s enjoyable and efficient.

What’s next? A replicator under your bed?

Amazon’s already got physical delivery down to one hour (at least in Manhattan).

Amazon announces Prime Now: delivery in an hour

They’ve talked about using drones (although there are still regulatory hurdles on that).

Now, according to this

Wall Street Journal post by Greg Bensinger

and other sources, Amazon has applied for patents related to 3D printing items for customers…even from inside delivery trucks.

At this point, 3D printing is limited as to what it can produce (plastics work well…food has been done), and it takes a while to make something.

Still, I can just imagine electric Amazon trucks that just consistently cruise around neighborhoods. You’d get quite used to them. After all, electric vehicles are quiet…I drive a hybrid, and when I’m in electric vehicle mode, I still sometimes really surprise pedestrians.

A small plastic piece breaks on your printer (assuming you would still use a printer). You order it from Amazon (perhaps using your Amazon Echo).

The truck (it could even be an autonomous, self-driven vehicle) “prints” that piece and delivers it to you.

Now, would it be able to do that faster than Prime Now?

I’m guessing no.

However, as a former brick and mortar bookstore manager (and I managed a couple of other types of stores as well), the idea of not having to stock rarely ordered items is very exciting…and economically valuable.

In the bookstore, we’d had this old, yellowed, crunchy, single copy of a paperback on the shelf for years.

When somebody finally bought it, the inventory system wanted to order another one to replace. :)

That’s a place where human override was important.

We had likely lost money on that sale.

Remember that we were paying rent for the space under that book for all that time.

From time to time, employees probably had to straighten up (“merchandise”) that shelf.

If this was a book we could have returned for credit, we would have done that…but not every publisher allows it.

I could have thrown it away or donated it somewhere, I suppose, but I have faith in books. :)

This is years away, certainly.

I can also envision homes having an Amazon 3D printer in them. You order it, Amazon charges you what is basically a licensing fee for the design and maybe for the raw material (although I could see customers providing that), and it prints right then and there.

Actually, that could work quite well. You could even hold up an item to a visual scanner, and if Amazon had the deal with the “rightsholder” for that item, it could reproduce it for you.

There’s got to be some good way to tie this into gaming and toys…because that’s where innovation often happens first.

Naturally, some people may also relate this to POD (Print On Demand) for paper books…and that could work also.

What do you think? If Barnes & Noble continues as a digital enterprise, when would you buy a NOOK book rather than a Kindle book? Should the PTA have partnered with a specific company? It’s National Reading Month…why not recommend a book you think would help a child become a lifelong reader? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

 Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Round up #285: reading declines, Kindle Unlimited expands to Canada and Mexico

February 13, 2015

Round up #285: reading declines, Kindle Unlimited expands to Canada and Mexico

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Kindle Unlimited launches in Mexico and Canada

As a publisher (I only publish my own works…which I would guess is true of most Kindle Direct Publishing authors) who has books in

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Amazon just informed me that KU is expanding to Canada and Mexico!

That’s exciting…I like having it very much. It’s an “all you can read” plan, $9.99 a month in the USA. Here’s the link for the information page

Kindle Unlimited in Mexico

where it is 129 pesos a month, and for

Kindle Unlimited Canada

where it is $9.99 (Canadian) a month.

Chri

Echo videos from Phink, one of my readers

One of my regular readers and commenters, Phink, recently got an Amazon Echo, Amazon’s ambient computing device. It’s an always on voice input device which plays music, answers all kinds of questions, and more.

Phink has posted what I think are a couple of the best videos I’ve seen so far about the Echo. They aren’t really reviews, they are demonstrations of what the device can do. If you are interested in the Echo, I think they are definitely worth watching to see what your experience might be like.

I appreciate Phink sharing these! I’ll be happy to write about the Echo, but my delivery date still says between May 27th and July 2nd.

Publishers Weekly: No Panic Over 15 Percent Drop in Christian Fiction Sales

Christian fiction has been a strong category of seller, but from 2013 to 2014, according to this

Publishers Weekly article by Ann Byle

sales dropped 15%. The article goes on to say why the publishers aren’t worried about that…I guess they have faith. ;)

Video news

I thought I’d group a couple of things together here…a mini-round up. ;)

First, this is just odd to me, but Amazon Studios is working with Sid and Marty Krofft to do a reimagined pilot of one of their series. The Kroffts were really gonzo “kids’ show” producers in the 1970s, although they did a lot more than that.

So, what gets the reboot? The most popular H.R. Pufnstuf? The wacky Lidsville? Electra Woman and Dyna Girl? Nope…Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. This may take a lot of reimagining…Sigmund’s parents were parodies of Archie Bunker and Phyllis Diller, and I just don’t think that’s going to fly with today’s audiences. Hoping they stick with the Johnny Whitaker theme song, though. :)

press release

Second, Fire TV, which is both the

Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and the

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

have added a bunch of apps, including the much talked about Sling TV (which may enable some people to drop cable…by paying for a much more focused package), TED (great, though-provoking lectures…this one is free), and Fox Sports GO.

press release

Only 40% of 17 year olds read at least one a week for fun

I do think that e-books have enabled and encourage a lot of people to read more, but stats like the ones in this

EBOOK FRIENDLY post by Ola Kowalczyk

are troubling.

It’s nothing particularly new…as kids get older, fewer of them report reading for fun.

Part of that may be that they have to read so much more for school…a high schooler presumably has a lot more assigned reading than a nine-year old. If they are enjoying that reading, it would probably still not be reported as “reading for pleasure”.

What’s troubling is the decline across age groups since 1984.

It’s possible that there was a big decline (let’s see…video games, maybe?) for a while, and that e-books are, in fact, increasing reading.

Still, the Common Sense Media data reported on here (and shown in an infographic) is not especially encouraging. On the good side, more than a quarter of homes have an EBR (E-Book Reader…they mention Kindles and NOOKs. That would not include tables, like the Kindle Fire).

Big update for Kindle for iOS (4.7)

In this

Kindle Forum thread (at AmazonSmile*)

an update for the iOS (Apple mobile…iPhones, iPads) app is announced.

It includes eTextbooks and the “Book Browser” feature that brings you information about the book (new for iPhones).

Flipboard redesigns Flipboard for the web

This is a big improvement!

I’ve written about my free Flipboard magazines here before.

I read it in the

Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

app, which I read every morning on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

For my readers who didn’t have Fires, though, I know the experience trying to read them in a browser on a PC wasn’t great.

Well, if you’ve tried it before, check it out again at

https://flipboard.com/

I like what they’ve done it with it: it looks much better, and seems to be less resource intensive.

Hope you enjoyed my birthday! ;)

We had a great time…we went to Point Isabel in Richmond (rated as one of the top ten dog parks in the world)…our dogs love it there! We also get about an hour walk, two or three miles. I went to doctor yesterday for an annual check-up, and to the DMV to renew my license. When I did the DMV thing, I realized that my weight is down about 55 pounds since I last did a driver’s license! I’m down about 40 pound in the last two years, thanks to the free app I reviewed here:

Review: MyFitnessPal

Well, that, and a lot of work. :) I figure another year and I’ll be in good shape.

Then we tried a new restaurant, and the food was good.

After that, we saw The Theory of Everything. That’s one of the Best Picture nominees we hadn’t seen. I thought it was good, and was glad I had done my personal

2015 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness)

predictions before I saw it. When you think a movie is good, it can skew your predictions…you tend to think the Academy will like it better than you might if you had not seen it.

I also got a book…always a good thing! I’ll wait until I’ve read a bit before I say anything about it, and I’ll likely do a Goodreads review.

Hope it was a great day for you, too!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Books as a vaccine against hate

February 8, 2015

Books as a vaccine against hate

There has been a lot of discussion recently about people who choose not to vaccinate their children.

That doesn’t seem like a particularly complicated issue to me.

I should say first, I’m not a clinician, although I have worked with them for more than a decade.

This is the way that vaccines generally work, as I understand it.

You are exposed to a version of a disease. That version might be dead, or it might be greatly weakened.

Your body develops antibodies against that disease.

It needs to know that the threat is, analyze it, and blueprint something to go against it…that’s why the vaccine exposes the person to it, but in a generally harmless version.

There is a great deal of evidence that the concept works.

There are people who are unusually at risk from the vaccine…just as there are people who are unusually at risk going into a school or a mall.

For example, a child might have a tremendously compromised immune system. Most kids do fine going to school with other children around them. They get exposed to diseases, but are able to cope with that.

An immunocompromised child might be unable to fight off those same diseases, so going to school is an unusual risk.

In extreme cases, those children might become “bubble children”, and live at home in a specially designed protective facility. Fortunately, nowadays, they may be able to “attend” school through the use of a telepresence robot. The child stays at home in the “clean” environment, and steers a robot from classroom to classroom. The robot has a screen and sensors, so the child can both see and be seen.

A child with a medical condition like might have a very strong contraindication for the same vaccine which would be beneficial for the majority of children.

Some people choose not to vaccinate their children for other reasons…religious reasons, for example.

If you think that the government should make decisions based on your religion, you may then think that the guardians of the child have the right not to vaccinate.

If that’s the case, it also seems reasonable to say that the unvaccinated child should not be in a position to expose other children.

That unvaccinated child could be a carrier of a disease (they might have the disease and be able to spread it without showing symptoms or being noticeably affected themselves). It’s possible that there is an immunocompromised child in the classroom who has not yet been diagnosed. Even a disease which would generally be survivable might be fatal to that child.

If someone is unvaccinated, it’s a risk to have them around other people, depending in part on the contagious nature of the disease. I would feel differently if the vaccine mitigated the risk of a noncontagious condition than if it did the same for a contagious one.

I understand the controversy and the emotional desire to protect your children evidenced by both sides.

I see a parallel to reading books.

Many people want to protect their children from ideas which they consider dangerous.

We talk every year about “banned books”: books which have been challenged by individuals or groups, to get them removed from school and public libraries.

There are typically reasons given. I created a pie chart of those when I wrote about Banned Books week for 2013:

Should any books be banned? Banned Books Week 2013

In my case, I want my child (who is now an adult) and other people to read ideas with which I disagree.

I think it’s much better that someone gets exposed to the ideas in the form of a book, where it is a more controlled situation than in a personal interaction. It’s much easier to set a book aside and think about it and look at contradicting ideas than it is to do that during a face to face conversation.

I’d never thought of it this way before, but it is like getting a vaccination.

By being exposed to the ideas, you can develop a defense against them (if that’s the way you go). That defense can be used when encountering it in an active situation.

I’m sure many of my readers have done that. “Actually, I’ve read such and such, and that’s not what it says.” Alternatively, “I’ve read about that: how do you answer this question?”

That seems like a similar mechanism to getting a vaccine.

Arguably, there might be people who shouldn’t be exposed to a particular idea because of an unusual  susceptibility…like the immunocompromised children above.

It might not make sense for someone to read a book with a glorified suicide (MINOR SPOILER ALERT, I’M NOT SAYING WHO OR IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES: Romeo and Juliet comes to mind END SPOILER ALERT) if they are actively diagnosed with suicidal tendencies and being treated for it.

Let’s take this analogy one step further.

If books are a vaccine against hate, is there a “herd immunity”? If more people read something hateful and develop a mental/emotional defense against it, would that tend to protect the community?

My guess is that it would.

If, say, 95% of the people in a town have already read and rejected an idea, and a person espousing that idea comes to town, I think the idea would be less likely to be able to “infect” the town successfully.

Does that mean that “protecting” your child against ideas with which you disagree is potentially putting the community at risk?

I think that’s a possibility.

For children, the guardians are part of building the “idealogical immune system”. Being open to discussing a book with your child is a great way for them to develop a response to something.

My inclination is always towards openness in terms of reading choices. If my child chose to read a book by a hate group, I would hope (and expect) that we would discuss it. That discussion would help a child build that “blueprint” of an antibody, which could then be used later in the event of a full-blown confrontation.

One last thing.

As I’m writing this, one of my challenges is thinking of what would be these dangerous ideas. I think that’s individual, and difficult to determine…so I would let a child read as many different ideas as possible: especially ones which contradict my own.

Note: there are books which are produced through harming people. For me, that’s a different thing. It is the production of the book which is the problem, and you may not choose to support that methodology. I completely understand that, and find it a reasonable position.

What do you think?

We are talking about ideas here…is preventing exposure to an idea a good thing? Under what circumstances? Do you seek out books to read which contradict your own beliefs? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Kindle Daily Deal: 125 books for “kids of all ages” for $1.99 each

December 26, 2014

Kindle Daily Deal: 125 books for “kids of all ages” for $1.99 each

Today’s

Kindle Daily Deals (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

are a great introduction to those daily bargains for those who might just be starting their Kindle journey (or perhaps I should say “Voyage”) ;), and present veteran Kindleers with some cool options.

As one of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, put it:

“…Lots of great selections to start out a library for kids who got Kindles for Christmas.”

That’s true…but I have to say, that lots of adults read the books that are classified as “children’s books” as well. My tendency is to think of children’s books as ones which include that younger group, but don’t exclude the older one.

You should never be ashamed of what you read…assuming it’s legal and such. :)

Please check the price before you click or tap that “Buy” button. These prices may not apply in your country (I have readers all over the world), and they are only good today. Books can also go in and out of deals like this, although with the KDD (Kindle Daily Deal), that’s unlikely, from what I’ve seen.

Before I get to the ones they have listed as for “children of all ages”, let me point out a few others:

  • The original Ian Fleming James Bond books (now published as e-books by Amazon) are $1.99 each…not for children ;)
  • They have 43 (at time of writing) “top-rated romances” on sale. Top-rated doesn’t necessarily mean “best known”, but they can be a good opportunity to expand your horizons and discover new authors

I think it’s also worth noting that all of the above are part of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

meaning that members (and you may have just started a free month) can read them at no additional cost.

Now, on to those 125 “children’s books”! These are some of the stand-outs to me:

  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin: a fantasy classic, 4.1 stars out of 5, 624 customer reviews…first in a series. Also in Kindle Unlimited (KU)
  • Lois Lowry books: Number the Stars (KU), Gossamer (KU)
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (Newberry winner)
  • Farewell to Manzanar (KU) by James D. Houston and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston: a non-fiction treasure which has been widely lauded about the Japanese internment camps in the USA…or rather, one person’s experience in one
  • Sleep Like a Tiger (KU) by Mary Logue, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski: Caldecott Medal picture book (note: text-to-speech is not enabled on this title, but I assume that it is due to the text being part of the image and therefore inaccessible to the software, not because the access was blocked by the publisher)
  • Catherine, Called Birdy (KU) by Karen Cushman
  • An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 (KU) by Jim Murphy (Newbery honoree)
  • Sing Down the Moon (KU) by Scott O’Dell
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virgina Lee Burton (some of us may remember being read this by Captain Kangaroo)
  • Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen
  • Curious George by H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey: a part of childhood
  • The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (KU) by Barry Lyga
  • Yes, She Can! Women’s Sports Pioneers by Glenn Stout
  • Mary Poppins in the Park (KU) by P.L. Travers and Mary Shepard…not the first of the series about the magical nanny, but part of it

Enjoy!

Join over a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 


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