Amazon has introduced a new Alexa feature it describes as a “learning experience,” and it’s called Reading Sidekick. The functionality is targeted at kids ages 6 to 9, helping them learn to read independently for enjoyment. The feature works with Echo devices that have the Kids feature enabled, though you’ll also need an Amazon Kids+ subscription to use Reading Sidekick.
Amazon revealed the new functionality today, explaining that the tool leverages the Alexa voice assistant and the Amazon Kids+ app on tablets to read any of the books found in the Reading Sidekick library. There are hundreds of books for young readers supported by Sidekick, according to Amazon, including titles like Milk and Cookies for new readers, as well things like Around the World Right Now for kids whose reading skills are a bit more advanced.
Kids can use the ebook or physical editions of supported titles with Reading Sidekick. Alexa will alternate with the child to read the book, each taking their own turns, with the goal of strengthening reading skills on the road to full reading independence. The voice assistant will help kids with words they may struggle to read or correct them if they read a sentence incorrectly.
The system is easy enough for kids to learn. After saying the phrase, “Alexa, let’s read,” the child will only need to tell Alexa the name of the book and how much they want to read using simple commands like “a lot” or “a little.” Alexa will do most of the reading if the child says “a little,” while the child will do most of the reading if they say “a lot.”
According to Amazon, Reading Sidekick is designed to give kids encouragement, as well, by praising them when they get through a rough patch or telling them they did a good job. Parents, meanwhile, can use the Amazon Kid dashboard to monitor things like the books read, the amount of time spent reading, and more.