I watch my four-year-old granddaughter’s rapt attention to the apps and videos on her iPad. I marvel at the way her fingers deftly tap the screen, scroll through the programs, and maneuver the digital platforms. She’s smiling and even singing to herself as she listens to a song. I ask her to teach me how to do it, and she is more than capable and eager to do so. I am not surprised, as she was born into a technology infused world. It’s what she knows.
Through our interactions and conversations, I discover that many digitalized programs are entertaining, age-appropriate, and even educational if selected carefully. They can be an invaluable tool to motivate a preschool or kindergarten child who is learning to read and write. They’re not all bad! More importantly, shared reading using electronic devices, is another way parents, grandparents, and caregivers to carve out additional spaces for talking about books – anytime and anywhere.
Navigating the Digital World
Did you know that many of your child’s favorite books have digital versions that can be found on You Tube? It’s fun to listen to both, and talk with your child about the differences and their preferences.
Goodnight Moon – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9yu_g5x3ZoQ
Are You My Mother?
Go, Dog, Go! and
The Best Nest
You can also ask your librarian about selecting and accessing high quality eBooks for your child, as these resources are now part of many lending libraries. 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.
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. Who could be better than Rachel Ray to read Green Eggs and Ham? No words appear on the screen, however, viewing the illustrations builds your child’s skills for independent reading with a non-digital text. 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.
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.
And don’t forget Sesame Street – Alphabet Letters With Elmo and Friends!
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/