Amazon’s been offering Kids Edition versions of its Fire tablets for years, and now it’s bringing a bundle to its Kindle e-readers with a new Kindle Kids Edition.
The move makes a lot of sense, given that Amazon already pushes reading and education pretty heavily with its FreeTime service on the Fire tablets. It’s only logical that the company would expand that program to its Kindle e-readers, too.
Like the Kids Edition tablets, this bundle includes four main parts: the device, (which is the exact same hardware as Amazon’s latest entry-level Kindle), a durable case to protect it, a year of Amazon’s FreeTime service, and a two-year extended replacement guarantee if the device breaks.
The big draw here is FreeTime, which lets parents put the entire content library of FreeTime books (which includes big names like the Harry Potter series, The Hobbit, Artemis Fowl, the Percy Jackson books, and The Chronicles of Narnia) in front of kids. Children can browse and download what they’re interested in without parents having to worry about content being inappropriate or costing extra money. All of the FreeTime features for managing screen time are available on the Kindle and Fire tablets. Parents can set bedtimes, maximum time limits, and more.
There are also some new kid-centric features, including an achievement system that recognizes and gamifies goals like reading multiple days in a row. Also, words that kids look up in the onboard dictionary are automatically saved as flashcards that they’ll be able to go back and review to help build their vocabularies.
The FreeTime Unlimited mode won’t be exclusive to the Kids Edition Kindle; Amazon is planning to offer it for other Kindle hardware in a software update planned for January. That means you’ll soon be able to turn an older Kindle into a kid-friendly e-reader.
The biggest issue with the Kids Edition Kindle is the base hardware: it’s Amazon’s recently revamped entry-level Kindle, which means that it’s Amazon’s worst e-reader by a long shot. At $109 ($20 more than the non-Kids Edition), it’s a good deal, especially when you consider the case and year of FreeTime Unlimited service that are included in the bundle. But given that a far superior Paperwhite with a far better display and kid-friendly waterproofing costs just $129 (and usually far less considering Amazon’s frequent sales), you might be better off waiting to pick up the more premium hardware instead. That’s especially true given the lifespan of a Kindle, which tends to be measured in years, not months.
The Kindle Kids Edition will ship on October 30th in four different case designs, including blue and purple colors and rainbow bird and space station options.