When I Was a kid I would have loved one of these things
August 16, 2011 4:01 PM   Subscribe

B&N Nook Color for a kid: seeking tips on making it child-friendly, child-safe, best apps, and how to provide a budget for buying books that cannot be exceeded . . .

I have decided to purchase a Nook Color as a birthday present for a child turning 11, a very avid reader and a typical gadget-loving technophilic kid of that age for whom an iPad would be a bit too much and for whom a dedicated e-reader with a direct purchase capability is potentially a perfect fit. Kid has a laptop for schoolwork and writing and art, and also spends a lot of time on it for entertainment, but also spends hours at a time reading books and can easily spend 2 hours reading in the aisles at Barnes and Noble and still be reluctant to leave even with an armload of new books.

So I'm looking for tips on setting this up for maximum use value from any other parents who have bought a Nook for a kid. I'd like suggestions for specific apps, unexpected cool things a kid can do with the device, library borrowing on the Nook, etc.

But I am also specifically interested in whether one can implement parental controls on the web browser or on the Nook store itself.

Finally, I'm trying to game out how to provide the recipient with a regularly replenished budget for purchasing books on the Nook store, but I'd like to prevent her from going (massively) over budget on my credit card. B&N rep tells me there is no way this can be implemented directly on the Nook store, although I can keep her stocked with store credit through gift cards (but if those are exceeded, it would just charge my regular credit card behind the account). I suppose I could create the account linked to a debit card or a prepaid credit card, although the rep wasn't sure this would work. So . . .has anyone tried that and did it work?

And an add-on Nook Color question: is there any app that accepts handwritten/drawn input from a stylus or a fingertip?
posted by spitbull to Technology (6 answers total)
Hopefully someone with more knowledge of the stock NC operating system will stop by. I do have a Nook Color, but with custom software installed. I can vouch for the hardware - I've enjoyed quite a few books on it. It is a bit on the heavy side, so reading with one hand is pretty much out (it'll build your kid's reading muscles though.) I've found that a cheap anti-glare screen protector improves the reading experience, as the screen starts out very shiny.

The Nook market is not the same as the full-on Android market - B&N has to approve apps, and most of the apps (in theory) relate to reading or media in some way. This means it'll have some basic apps and games, but probably won't get the more advanced games or Netflix anytime soon. On the flip side, this means that B&N curates out the seedier types of apps that pollute the Android market.

I think I saw an app in-store that was a drawing/fingerpainting type of app. Is that what you were looking for, or were you after a note-taking style thing?
posted by Wulfhere at 4:52 PM on August 16, 2011

Various posts in the B&N community boards state using a pre-paid card works; here's one where a user reports on how she did it. You can also set up the nook so a password is required for making purchases. The user guide says the option is under Shop Settings in the Settings section.
posted by bluesapphires at 5:32 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

+1 On the pre-paid card style budget.

This may or may not work with the Nook to set a purchase budge - my eight year old niece has a Kindle. We created her a brand new amazon account & registered the Kindle to that account. Then we purchase amazon gift cards for $20 or whatever (kids books are super cheap thankfully (; ) and load the gift cards into her account via the amazon website. That gives her a "budget" to purchase with - she knows how to go to the amazon site via her kindle & buy books.

I get an email of each book she purchases because the email address for her account goes to my inbox. I just keep an eye on the titles to sort of monitor if she's running out of gift card money & what the titles are (ie kids titles - we trust her, but she is 8). Works for us because it's pretty low key maintenance & she knows to hit up her aunt (me (; ) who is more likely to spoil her than her mom when she would like another gift card loaded.

Also, get a good cover for it. We found a padded one that zips around the kindle. She's a bit rough and will toss around whatever totebag it's in and so forth.
posted by lyra4 at 6:02 PM on August 16, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Yeah, I know I can password protect purchases, but that defeats the purpose of letting her shop for herself whenever she wants as long as she stays in budget.
posted by spitbull at 6:14 PM on August 16, 2011

Not to make it all NOT FUN or anything, but perhaps this would be a good place to sneak in a little low-key personal finance lesson? Tell her she has X amount to spend each month and create a spreadsheet either on the computer or maybe something that hangs on the fridge. Then every time she buys something, she writes it in the sheet and subtracts from the total.

I know that my 32-year-old self probably could probably have benefited from a lesson when I was younger about how iTunes and Amazon purchases add up even though I don't actually see the money ;)
posted by stefnet at 7:12 AM on August 17, 2011

Barnes & Nobles has some colour nook specific apps you can download from their site, I think they have angry birds even. Anyway their range of specific apps is growing they even have a kids section.

I bought the nook for my husband who is a bit older than your nephew and still had fun with the Dr Suess stuff on his nook, also uses the calculator a lot. Oh and the tikatok app looks like fun not that I've tried it, but its a free storywriting/publishing app for kids.

My husband uses gift cards registered to his nook account to keep track of his spending otherwise he has a tendency to put on any book he sees that he fancies.

The best part about the nook (husband has the colour & I have the touch) is that there are a LOT of free classics out there that you can add too that would be suitable for a young reader. Things like "Peter Pan", "Black Beauty" etc if he likes that sort of thing at Project Gutenburg. Add the PDF reader to the nook and the range of what you can read on it expands, though I am not a huge fan of trying to read pdfs on any reader.

Id' recommend a nice sturdy case to protect it and you can find them with a built in stand. The stand comes in super handy if you want to read hands free you just prop it up, there a lots of nice covers on Amazon as I haven't yet seen one instore with the stand.
posted by wwax at 3:19 AM on August 18, 2011

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