Kitty teaching her cousin about the states at a local Red Robin.  Making dinner time education time!

With the holidays coming up we were starting to toss around the idea of getting Kitty her own tablet. Her desire to use my laptop and my tablet was beginning to take a toll on both my productivity and my hardware.

Super-Dad and I made a list of the features we would want if we were to buy her her own device. She is reading now, so a tablet with a good e-reader was a must. She loves to watch PBS shows on Netflix, so the ability to install common apps was also high on the list . After a bit of going over what it was we wanted, we actually decided against getting her a device. We don’t generally buy things made specifically for kids since A) Our kids are pretty savvy (as I am sure many of my readers’ kids are) and B)They inevitability outgrow them and then you have an expensive paperweight. Anything that would meet our expectations would be too expensive and fragile to risk her breaking it – and one of Kitty’s nicknames is “The Destroyer of Things”.

Then came the Amazon Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition. It launched last month and kinda flew under my radar. Frankly, even if I had seen it, I would have assumed all it promised was too good to be true. Well, two weeks ago Amazon gave me a Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition, and it has lived up to all of its promises and more. While it’s no longer an option for our holiday giving to Kit, it should definitely be on your gift list.

If you are going to buy your kids a tablet this holiday season, I strongly recommend the Amazon Fire Kindle HD Kids Edition. Here’s why:

  • It’s Kitty Proof – Even The Destroyer of Things can’t hurt this sucker. Made of super tough Gorilla Glass and wrapped in a “Kid-Proof Case” it’s not going to be easy for her to break. The case is a lightweight rubbery/foamy material that surrounds the whole device like a bumper. It also has adds a surface for small hands to grip.
  • Two year No Questions Asked Warranty – Even if she does somehow break it, it is covered under a two year no questions asked guarantee. I asked if that for sure covered user-caused damaged. Ya know, like if it accidentally fell into a toilet? To which the awesome folks at Amazon replied “No questions asked, if it stops working within the two years, we will replace it”. That is UNHEARD of, and I’m sure will be very welcome in most households with “spirited” children like mine.
  • Sooo many apps – The Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition comes with one year of Amazon Freetime, a hand-curated subscription of over 5,000 kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games. After the one year period is up the Freetime App is still a huge value at $2.99/month for Amazon Prime Members and $4.99/month for everyone else. This is AMAZING you guys. There are books and videos featuring Disney characters, Nickelodeon shows, PBS Kids content and so much more. There are tons of leveled readers, lots of great educational apps and a selection of entertainment videos and games. Kitty has been using this thing practically non-stop for two weeks and has yet to say that she is bored with the content.
  • The parental controls were clearly designed by parents – besides having the ability to control exactly which of the Freetime content you want your kids to have access to, you can control when they can have it. The Freetime parental controls contain Wake up and Bed Time settings and kids are locked out of the device outside of that time frame. What we really, really love though, is that we can lock Kit out of any of the “entertainment” content until she has met certain educational goals. Kitty gets a total of two hours of screen time a day( not counting reading time, which is unlimited), but before she can access iCarly or the Hair Salon game, she has to read in the reading app for 30 minutes on school nights and 45min on weekends, use any of the educational apps for 30 minutes(right now Stack the States is the favorite, and has given her the ability to put all 50 states on the map! She’s seven! I can’t even do that! ) and watch an educational video (Wild Kratts and BrainPOP are the current winners in that category) and only then can she watch or play what Freetime has marked as entertainment. She has always been a reluctant reader, and this has helped immensely. I like, want to find the person who came up with this idea and buy them a coffee. It has the reward built right in. We don’t have to nag or police her. If she wants the tablet to do something other than read, she’s gotta read. You can fine tune these settings at any time, so if we take a road trip, or she’s stuck in bed sick, we can give her more time. If she’s having a hard week listening, we can give her less.
  • It’s a real tablet – This thing has real tablet specs. It’s the Kindle Fire HD with the Kids stuff on top. When she is done for the night, I log onto my profile and watch a show in bed before I fall asleep. I have access to any app in Amazon’s app store. I watch Netflix on the HD display, the quad-core processor means everything runs smoothly and looks great, and it has a 2MP camera for photos and 1080p HD video. You can skype and it looks pretty good.
  • It may be a real tablet, but it was designed for kids – Amazon told me that they started from the ground up when developing a tablet for children. It boots directly into kids mode (no “Mommy, wake up, I need you to put in the password!”) and is intuitive for even the youngest non-readers to use. The lack of physical home and back buttons takes a little getting used to, but as with many tech related “issues” Kitty got used to that before the adults did.

The only real detractor here is the $2.99/$4.99 monthly price tag for the Freetime after your first year is up. It is an added expense, and the parental controls go away with it, but I think that it is such a good value for all the content that you get that I can’t even complain about that too much. When the time comes, I will happily pay it. Practically unlimited books alone is worth that tiny price tag.

I was given an Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition to facilitate this review, but my love for it is all my own. If a tablet for a kid is on your shopping list this holiday season, this is a good bet.

The Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition starts at $149 and includes a case, a two year Worry Free Guarantee and one year of Amazon Freetime. ( if you buy from that link I get some pennies [literally a few cents] to help with blog maintenance.