In response to a growing interest in foreign language books from parents and kids alike, Amazon.com announced an update to their digital reader—the Kindle—that would allow three new languages into their growing digital library. In a February 19th announcement, Amazon unveiled an update to the Kindle text platform, allowing Spanish, Portuguese and Italian authors to upload and sell digital versions of their books over the internet.
Previous Kindle versions were configured only to read English, German and French. But by allowing three new languages, Amazon opens the market up even further. In the U.S., Latinos / Hispanics make up over 15% of the population, with many parents looking for ways to pass on their cultural language to their children. By opening up the digital landscape, Amazon allows these parents easier access to new foreign-language titles.
The announcement comes as a win for Spanish education. Currently, Spanish is, by far, the most widely taught language in the United States. By digitizing foreign-language books, kids can learn from Spanish language texts for school or for personal growth in more modern, digital formats.
Beyond just opening their library, the Kindle now allows download of digital Spanish, Italian and Portuguese books from other locations on the web. Sites like Project Gutenberg and FeedBooks offer many Spanish and other foreign language titles now fully supported by the Kindle and other digital readers.
With millions of multicultural families across the U.S., the internet has allowed for a whole new industry of ethnic-themed children’s books to emerge. Independent book publishers like Lee & Low will continue connecting interested families with books to teach their heritage. Home-schooled children trying to learn Spanish or just a school kid interested in where he came from will have an easier time as access to books like these becomes easier. Whether its through a digital version or on the book shelf at bedtime, monority children’s books will open your child up to culture, language and themes they may not get anywhere else.
As the written word goes increasingly digital, companies like Amazon will continue to struggle keeping up with the conversion. But for foreign-language authors, children and parents, technology like this provides exciting access to new books. Whether selling hardbacks or digital copies, we are happy to see that great authors like Susan Middleton Elya (the Say Hola to Spanish series) can now bring these great stories to the next generation of readers.