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Amazon’s Reading Sidekick Helps Kids Read

Amazon’s announced a new feature that will turn Alexa into a reading companion for children, as well as new support for Alexa Voice Profiles for Kids, which personalize the child’s Alexa experience across all Echo devices in the household. The two features go hand in hand, as the Voice Profile allows Alexa to identify who’s speaking, so the device can appropriately respond to a request like “Alexa, let’s read.” Alexa will then start the reading companion experience, which Amazon’s is calling Reading Sidekick.

This Reading Sidekick feature isn’t available to all Alexa device owners, as it requires an Amazon’s Kids+ subscription. This is the $2.99 per month subscription service that also provides families with children access to thousands of kid-friendly books, TV shows, movies, educational apps, and games. In addition to premium content for Echo devices, like ad-free radio stations and playlists, Audible books, and exclusive Alexa skills.

Once subscribed, the child can then direct Alexa to read with them and they’ll pick up a compatible book or ebook to get started. Alexa will ask what book they’re reading and how much does the child want to read. The Reading sidekick works with the hundreds of children’s books for ages 6 to 9 that are included as part of the Amazon Kids+ subscription, including both the print or digital versions. When it’s the child’s turn to read, Alexa will listen and encourage when the child is doing well. It also offers support when the child is struggling.

Meanwhile, support for new Alexa Voice Profiles for Kids will also begin rolling out starting today. This opt-in feature allows parents or guardians to create a voice profile for each child in their family. When enabled, the Alexa experience will be personalized to the individual speaking. That means Alexa will automatically apply the appropriate parental controls that have been configured, automatically filter explicit music, limit calls and messages sent through Alexa only to approved contacts, and restrict the child only to the Alexa skills parents have pre-approved. Alexa will also provide the child with access to kid-friendly games, skills, music, and videos and will provide kid-friendly responses to kids’ inquiries.

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