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I’m in the enviable position of having had 18 kindles donated to the library. This has allowed us to run a successful Carnegie shadowing group and I’m now looking at other strategies to get the most out of our Kindles. Do you have any ideas?

Experience shows that Kindles can be highly successful working with students who don’t enjoy reading or for whom reading is a challenge.  You can work with students to pick a book that appeals to them from reading blurbs, without their being put off the right book on account of its length, or even font size. You can then zoom text up to make it easier to read: with fewer words on a page, reading becomes a less daunting prospect, and this can open up all sorts of new horizons to students who have never previously considered themselves “readers”.

See what textbooks and nonfiction titles are used in different departments in your school, and trying to upload these onto the Kindles.  You can then use this for research based work when classes use the library, or to take out to classes for research in the classroom.  This can work well in promoting the library across the wider school as teachers will see the benefit of using the Kindles alongside their own research methods, plus from a library point of view you get to teach extended research and library skills!

Not being a librarian or teacher myself, my suggestions are more general, but initial thoughts are you could use the Kindles to shadow other prizes, such as the Costa (although there is often some overlap with the Carnegie); to explore different genres or subject matters –  poetry, plays, thrillers, historical fiction, or the civil rights movement, revolution, gender issues… The possibilities are endless, and what strikes me about using Kindles in your context, is how empowering it can be for students.

Do make sure you check out Amazon’s lending policy, though.  There are some sticky points as to whether you are allowed to lend the books and the readers themselves out to students. A lot of libraries have moved away from Kindles because of this reason as it just isn’t clear what is acceptable or not.