Amazon Kindle Kids (2022 Release) Review

Editors’ Note: This is the most recent version of the Amazon Kindle Kids. Read our original review from October 13, 2022 below.

The 2022 Amazon Kindle ($99.99) is a solid upgrade over the company’s previous entry-level ebook reader thanks in large part to its sharper screen, and that bump in resolution extends to the refreshed 2022 edition of the Kindle Kids. This $119.99 kid-focused reader is simply a standard Kindle with a colorful cover and a yearlong membership to Amazon Kids+, which includes a suite of parental controls and provides access to thousands of kid-friendly books, audiobooks, and games and videos (to be used on other devices besides the Kindle). It’s a potent package for parents who want to encourage their kids to read. That said, the Kindle Paperwhite also comes in a model for Kids for $159.99, and it has a fully waterproof build that should hold up better to messy kids, making it our Editors’ Choice winner.

A Standard Kindle With a Colorful Cover

The Kindle Kids is physically identical to the standard Kindle (before you put the included case on it). It’s a matte black slate measuring 6.2 by 4.3 by 0.3 inches (HWD) and weighing 5.6 ounces, with a black bezel around its 6-inch E Ink touch screen. The bottom edge holds a USB-C port (an upgrade from the micro USB port on the previous Kindle) and a power button. 

(Photo: Will Greenwald)

The big visual difference between the Kindle Kids and the regular Kindle comes from the included case, which bumps up the overall size and weight slightly to 6.3 by 4.5 by 0.5 inches and 9 ounces. Currently, there are three styles to choose from: Ocean Explorer, Space Whale, or Unicorn Valley. Ocean Explorer and Space Whale are both primarily blue and water-themed, though Ocean Explorer leans more green while Space Whale features a magenta-gradient sky with stars. Unicorn Valley is just gloriously pink and cyan, with a small rainbow on one side. All three cases have magnetic flip covers that automatically wake the Kindle up when they’re open.

We go into detail describing the Kindle’s general qualities as an ebook reader in our main review, and the Kindle Kids is the same device. You can read that review for more details, but to summarize, the 6-inch, 300ppi screen is much sharper than the previous version, though the relatively cool front light is a bit harsher on the eyes than the Paperwhite’s, which features adjustable color temperature. It has 16GB of storage, twice as much as the previous Kindle and the standard Paperwhite, and it can last around six weeks with half an hour of reading a day (with the front light set to 13 and wireless turned off). It’s not waterproof, unlike the Paperwhite.

The Kid-Friendly Kindle Experience

Setting up the Kindle Kids is a simple process. It walks you through connecting it to your Wi-Fi network and linking it to your Amazon account. After that, it prompts you to set up Amazon Kids mode, which involves adding the names of the kids who will use it and creating a PIN to secure the device. Once the PIN is set, the Kindle will be locked in Kids mode until you enter the PIN to exit. While the tablet supports multiple profiles with separate libraries (and all children on the account will benefit from Amazon Kids+), switching between each kid’s profile requires you to re-enter the PIN. It’s a shame that there isn’t a quick profile switch option, perhaps with each kid having their own PIN. This would allow kids to open their own profiles without bothering you.

Amazon Kindle Kids (2022) library

(Credit: Will Greenwald)

Amazon Kids mode is a truncated, curated version of the standard Kindle interface, limiting what can be read to Amazon’s list of kid-friendly content (or books that parents manually add to their kids’ profiles). It’s easy to browse, with recently opened books and audiobooks appearing at the top of the home screen, but the Library tab of the standard Kindle is replaced by a Recent tab that also shows recently accessed content, and it doesn’t have any of the organizational features of the standard Library tab. This is disappointing, since kids can’t sort and track their own piles of books.

Kids mode adds two useful features for children learning how to read. Vocabulary Builder tracks every word that’s looked up (by tapping and holding on the word to get the definition), helping kids remember what they’ve learned and even generating flashcards for them. The Awards section gamifies reading by setting different achievements that can be earned from reading, like Book Worm for reading at least 30 minutes a day, and Serious Reader for reading 500 pages.

Amazon Kindle Kids (2022) book view

(Credit: Will Greenwald)

Amazon Kids mode is available on all Kindle devices, so it isn’t a Kindle Kids-specific benefit. The real boon of the Kindle Kids is the yearlong subscription to Amazon Kids+, which is otherwise $48 per year with an Amazon Prime membership or $79 per year without one. Kids+ offers 20,000 books, audiobooks, videos, apps, and games, all ad-free. The book selection sounds a bit sparse compared with the two million ebooks on Kindle Unlimited, but that subscription costs twice as much, and Kids+ ensures that all the content is safe for ages three to 12. Multimedia content on Kids+ extends the subscription to devices like Echo smart speakers, Fire tablets, and Fire TV media streamers, adding to the value.

All of these benefits omit one potentially important resource that Amazon doesn’t directly support: Overdrive. Overdrive is the ebook lending system of public libraries, and it makes far more books available across all intended ages and topics. You can get Overdrive books on Kindle ereaders, but it’s a complicated process that requires linking the two services and browsing them both on the web. The Kobo Libra 2 ($179.99) has built-in Overdrive support, and if you want to focus purely on library collections it’s easier to use.

An Affordable Way to Get Kids Reading

The Kindle Kids’ screen is sharp enough to ensure that children of all ages can read comfortably. It can also be paired with Bluetooth headphones and speakers to listen to audiobooks and text read by Amazon’s VoiceView text-to-speech accessibility feature. The interface is fairly bland, like the standard Kindle, but the content available on it and the control it gives parents makes it appealing. The real value is in both the included cover and the one-year membership to Amazon Kids+, both of which justify the $20 premium over the standard Kindle.

Amazon Kindle Kids (2022)

(Credit: Will Greenwald)

That said, the Paperwhite comes in a Kids version for $40 more. The available cases are different (a mostly green Emerald Forest, a mostly yellow Robot Dreams, or black), but all of the advantages are still there. And since the Paperwhite is waterproof, it seems safer to give to young and/or particularly messy children. So while the more affordable Kindle Kids is ultimately a great ebook reader for children, the Paperwhite Kids is a better overall package, as well as our Editors’ Choice.

Amazon Kindle Kids (2022 Release)

The Bottom Line

The 2022 edition of Amazon’s affordable Kindle Kids has a sharper screen than ever, but it isn’t quite as durable as the Paperwhite.

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