Friday 8 August 2014

Old School or Hi- #Tech - JK to Grade 12 - Reading Lists still part of summer! @StaplesCanada #KindleFireHD

Maybe it's because I'm older now and my kids are teens that I find myself thinking and getting nostalgic about the past and all the firsts; first steps, first words, first day of kindergarten, middle school, and then high school. Soon my babies will be venturing out on their own and there will be other firsts such as driver’s licences, and college or university. There will be firsts for me as well, including celebrating adjusting to the fact they will move away and will only be back for visits. I like to think the lessons we have taught our kids will serve them well and prepare them for all life's firsts, adventures and journeys yet to come.

One such lesson is a love of reading. Both my husband and I are readers, and always felt it was important to read to our kids, for our kids to read, and for them to see us reading. Shortly after writing Summer Learning with a Forecast of a Bright Future I was given the opportunity thanks to Staples Canada to try the Kindle Fire HDproviding this old schooler her first experience using an e-reader or tablet for reading. Maybe my tech savvy kids have a thing or two to teach their mom after all.

When we were expecting our kids, it was a toss-up between Babar and Winnie-the-Pooh for the nursery. These books had meaning for my husband and I as kids, and the stories and messages stayed with us into adulthood. That is why we chose them as some of the first books to read to our kids. Reading and sharing the same stories we read as children always makes me nostalgic, and I love that I could share that our kids.  


From the time our kids were very young my husband read to them nightly, it was their "thing". The books he read were not typically considered young kids books, and the reading was always followed by a discussion about the ideas, themes and messages in the chapter he had read. These books were always ones he had read in his youth. While others were reading Harry Potter, he was reading The Old Man and the Sea, The Little Prince, Jungle Book (the original, not the Disney version), and Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men. I would overhear the kids saying “we can’t read Jungle Book tonight right Dad, because there is violence and we don’t have time to discuss it.”  

I feel like books and stories are one of the best ways to bridge the generation gap between ourselves, our parents and our kids. Stories play such an important role in our understanding relationships, lessons, and life. The Judy Blume books, To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Outsiders, Ender’s Game, The Hobbit, and Catcher in the Rye, all have applicable lessons and messages still relevant today.

My teens have read so many of the books my husband and I read in our teens or in high school. It is interesting to see how we interpret them second time around with life experience compared to our teens. How and why our kids respond in a certain way to those stories gives us insight and helps us to understand them and their points of views. Discussions about books can be a great way to segue into conversations that can be challenging topics for parents and teens to discuss, especially for the “non-verbal” teen boy. Today's teen struggles and challenges are still ultimately about relationships, school, career paths, life choices and morals.

Like their parents before them, both my kids have to research topics for school projects and essays, but they have the Internet rather than periodical indexes and microfiche (showing my age here). They read the same books but often on an e-reader or tablet. They can be excellent tools for school. This summer was filled with firsts. My youngest son (aka Thing 2) did his first Reach Ahead Course at Summer School; Grade 12 English. We were able to lighten the knapsack load by putting the assigned books onto a Kindle Fire HD. He was able to use the Kindle Fire HD to quickly search spelling and definitions, something we have always encouraged our kids to do. In the past even if they wrote the words down with the intention of looking them up later, by the time they got home it was often forgotten. I love that they there is no need to wait and they can look up words up as they read.   


Summer vacation has always been a favourite time of year for me. As a child it meant a more relaxed schedule and spontaneous adventures. As a stay at home mom it has meant 18 more years of adventures with my kids, and a time to forget about school for a while, while still learning all summer long. My eldest (aka Thing 1) took the train by himself to visit his grandparents this summer, which was another first. He passed the time on the train by tackling some of his summer reading using the Kindle Fire HD. It is light weight, and made to handle the bumps a teen can dish out as well as life in and out of a knapsack. It's perfect to surf the web, watch a movie, or engage on social media. The battery life can easily handle a train ride, and it's so easy to use even "Mom" can figure it out. It really has been great and although it might be our first time trying the Kindle Fire HD you can be sure it won’t be the last.

One last note about the Kindle Fire HD: I love that Amazon Free Time app  allows you to set up different profiles for each member of the family giving you parental control over what and for how long your kids access books versus games. I wish this had been an option when my kids were younger. I have always had my kids make summer reading lists. I set the number of books and reading schedule, they get to decide what they read. The Kindle Fire HD is perfect to load up all the summer reading so the kids can get some done in the car, waiting in line, or when you are out and about. It is small and easy to bring in a purse or knapsack, and can easily move back and forth between the kids. If they finish one book, they can just move on to the next. I can’t think of a better way to integrate reading into a family’s summer schedule and plans whatever they may be. 

On a personal note I would like to thank Staples Canada, not just for this opportunity but also for the outstanding service we have received over the years. They have been part of so many of my kid’s firsts such as back to school from Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12, Science Fair boards, printing of yearbooks to name a few. They are generous and involved in our community, just as pleasant on social media, and it is a pleasure doing business with them!

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about firsts, back to school and summer reading.

Note: I received a Kindle Fire HD for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and reflect my personal and honest experience with this product.


  1. I think its still better for kids to use old school books until they are in their teens to avoid eye strain from the devices.

  2. I remember using Microfiche it at University and thinking that it was so high tech. How things have changed.

    As I get my kids ready for school (in Mexico), we will be making a visit to Staples to get all the school supplies we need. I won't do what I did last year and end up with a whole lot of nothing.

    Thanks for sharing your nostalgic memories with us. How nice that Staples is a part of them.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo

  3. Great ideas. Mine (14 and 15) still prefer books. My daughter even prefers writing her notes in school. Pretty old school family here.