Alexa can help your kids read stories

As good as it is to read with your kids, you might not always be there when they want to open a book. Amazon thinks it can fill in that gap, though. It just rolled out a long-teased Reading Sidekick feature that uses an Echo Kids device to help your kids read aloud on their own time. Children just have to tell Alexa “let’s read” to take turns reading supported books, whether they’re digital or physical. Your young ones won’t always have to wait for you, in other words.

You’ll need a Kids+ subscription to use the Sidekick, although you’ll at least have your choice of books. Over 700 titles will be available for kids aged 6 to 9, and Amazon is promising “hundreds more” every month.

Appropriately, Amazon is simultaneously rolling out Alexa Voice Profiles for Kids. Set them up for your children (as many as four) and they’ll get parental controls, kid-appropriate responses as well personalized Alexa skills, games and media. Not everyone will have Voice Profiles for Kids right away, but they should be available to everyone by July 2nd.

Before you ask: yes, Amazon is aware that parents and teachers should be involved in reading whenever possible. It’s not suggesting that you use a smart speaker as a substitute for reading at bedtime. Reading Sidekick is meant to fill in the gaps and encourage kids to read aloud more often — you don’t have to worry quite so much if a business trip keeps you away from home.

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