Your child was born into a technologically saturated world. Some four-year-olds even have their own iPads. Young children are learning to read and write in digital age. Therefore, it seems appropriate to integrate these resources into your shared reading and writing activities. You can be your child’s “media mentor” and screen time monitor.
Many of your child’s favorite books have digital versions. For example, you can listen to Good Night Moon at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9yu_g5x3ZoQ. It’s fun to read both versions, and see which one your child prefers. A simple version of Toy Story 4 (Level 1) can be found at https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Level+One+Disney+Books+You+Tube&&view=detail&mid=C711D010A4DDD3C229A9C711D010A4DDD3C229A9&&FORM=VRDGAR. Integrating pop culture texts motivate your emergent learner.
Balancing your read-alouds with a combination of traditional texts and eBooks, is most appropriate for all young children. They seem to understand the basic functions of their parents’ iPhones and iPads without direct instruction. We can now use these tools to build upon and extend the cognitive structures necessary for thinking, speaking, reading, and writing. In fact, many schools incorporate Chrome books and other online programs, such as Raz-Kids, Reading A-Z, and MyOn, with literacy instruction in the primary grades. Schools strive for a healthy balance of digital and nondigital resources.
Ask your librarian about selecting and accessing developmentally appropriate, high quality eBooks for your child, as these resources are now part of their lending library. Some eBooks have touch screen capabilities. Others, highlight the words as they are read aloud to your child. These are described as bi-modal texts. Your child can select to have the book “Read to Me” or to “Read It Myself.” When selecting an eBook, be sure that the “bells and whistles” do not detract your child’s attention from the story. There can be pop up ads, interactive features, or enhancements that result in your child’s diminished attention to the book.
Most importantly, sit alongside your child and view/read the story together. Social interaction is critical when learning to read and write. Talk about the story, make connections to your child’s world or other stories, and mediate their understandings about the themes present in the book. Do not abdicate your role as literacy coach! The digital tool is there to assist you, not to create the path you will take. Remember that children between the ages of 2 and 5, should have no online reading for at least one hour before bedtime.
My Top Picks
B&N (Barnes and Noble) Online Storytime https://www.symbaloo.com/mix/bnonlinestorytime.
Celebrities and authors read their books on this free site, and your child can view the vibrant illustrations. Who could be better than Rachel Ray to read Green Eggs and Ham? No words appear on the screen, but viewing the illustrations builds your child’s schema for independent reading with a non-digital text later. When you visit the Barnes and Noble Learning Library, you can access favorite books, such as Splish Splat Splash, on multiple levels. There are texts with fewer words and simple sentences, to promote sight word development.
This free site is similar to the B&N site, but is sponsored by the Screen Actors’ Guild. Famous actors, such as Ernest Borgnine, read stories like Rainbow Fish. In the website below, Chris Pine reads Clark the Shark in an animated way. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Storyline+Online+Read+Aloud+Books&&view=detail&mid=F8C553FDF6B3EF5F85F7F8C553FDF6B3EF5F85F7&&FORM=VRDGAR. As with B& N, the text does not appear. I chose the first two websites as reading aloud to your children is so important. In addition, your child can use the context of the illustrations to understand what’s going on. Later, when they are reading words and sentences, they will use the context of a sentence or paragraph to help them comprehend.
This site is geared towards children two to eight years old. You must subscribe to the site. I would check your local library to see if you can access it through them. At ABC.com you will be able to track your child’s progress, create an avatar, and earn rewards and incentives for completion of activities. The site definitely capitalizes upon children’s gaming interests. It is similar to https://www.starfall.com, which used to be free, but now requires a subscription for premium access to materials.
Scholastic Storybook Treasures
Scholastic has provided teachers, parents, and caregivers with many resources on this free site. I was delighted to discover Chrysanthemum narrated in Spanish. You will enjoy browsing this site, and be introduced to quality authors and popular texts. I would invite your child to look through the titles with you. Choosing what you want to read is always productive.
International Children’s Digital Library
This is a bare bones site, but you will find free books in many languages and stories from around the world.
This site is used by many schools, and you can find lots of books and videos. If you are a teacher it is free, if not there is a subscription price. It has an extensive and appealing digital library for children twelve and under. I like that there are informational texts as well as stories. Young children appreciate reading about real world people and real world events.
Between the Lions – PBS
This wonderful site created by PBS is no longer available. However, you can still find many of their episodes and stories on You Tube. For example, The Little Red Hen, can be viewed in two formats. The first version contains a read aloud with viewing of the illustrations and text. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=pbskids+stories+on+You+Tube+Between+the+Lions&&view=detail&mid=7C13470FA95B466038D27C13470FA95B466038D2&&FORM=VDRVRV
This section story, features a read aloud with accompanying illustrations and highlighted text. Your child can perceive how the words are represented by words in this bimodal text, and also perceive the directionality of the text from left to right.
This animated read aloud is delightful, and your child can select if they want to have it read to them, or read it by themselves. The format of Living Books represents that necessary balance between interactive features and a great story. It would be a nice match for Rachel Ray’s read-aloud, and truly promotes a love of reading.
A perfect companion site would be Suessville.com – https://www.seussville.com/