“Instead of Easy Readers” Series, Part Three: Using Technology.

When it comes to reading and technology, there’s a big divide. I’m in the middle. I would rather be able to say “yes” to paper books and “yes” to digital stuff, including ebooks. This post will NOT be about whether one is better nor will it be “All About The eBooks”. Instead, this is a post all about using various non-book technologies, from books on tape (ahem, “books on CD” or “audiobooks”) to educational websites and everything in between.

We like to check out “Books on CD” from the library (we do own a few, as well). For picture books, they usually have sets including the book. Kai will listen to them with and without the book. We sometimes do this with longer “chapter” books, as well.

Likewise, we have an mp3 player hooked up to the clock in his room. We put audiostories on it, followed by music. I highly recommend the stories from “Story Nory” (available, btw, free from iTunes) and “Palace of Stories“. With Palace of Stories, we’ve so far only listened to their podcast, because it’s free, but I’ve considered a subscription.

We have the “Meet The Sight Words” DVDs. I honestly don’t know how much they help. They give exposure, I guess, but not really in a meaningful way. That said, Kai loves them. I find them annoying. The word appears on the screen (in fun, animated ways) and repeats itself. Over and over and over.

One of the MOST useful DVDs (as far as reading goes) that we have bought was, “Talking Words Factory“. Kai has watched this a lot. Within the first few viewings, his reading ability took off. I cannot say enough good things about this video. (Please note: there’s also a “Letter Factory” DVD by LeapFrog. It’s not bad, but it’s more useful for letter recognition than learning to read.)

We’ve also watched a lot of old Reading Rainbow episodes. We often get the book afterwards.

Scholastic has “Storybook Treasures” DVDs. Kai loves watching “The Story About Ping,” but they have several different ones available.

There are plenty of “read to you” sites. Whenever offered the option, turn on the words. Some of the ones we’ve used are BookFlix, TumbleBooks, and Disney Digital Books. Talk to your children’s librarian. Ask if they have any resources like these. We get our access for these through Seattle Public Library.

We pay for subscriptions to ABCmouse and Starfall. I think, overall, Starfall’s program is more in-depth (also works better for the older kids than ABCmouse does) but ABCmouse has what they call “The Learning Path”, which is sequential, whereas Starfall’s is not. We have both and we like the variety. ABCmouse is DEFINITELY more flashy. They also have a reward system involving tickets and Kai is particularly motivated by that. But Starfall has activities that are often more advanced than ABCmouse. I think you can get trials for both.

Kai also enjoys using the PBS Kids website. They’ve got some good reading games on there.

From time to time, I turn on closed captioning. I know people who do this a lot and it helps their kids. I think we’re getting to the point where it may become more helpful to Kai, but this is really best for kids who have some at least reading skills already.

I do not believe technology will be the death of reading. Instead, I believe technology – especially computers – will help people learn to read better and may, perhaps, change the WAY we read.

This is the third post in my series “Instead of Easy Readers”.

6 thoughts on ““Instead of Easy Readers” Series, Part Three: Using Technology.

  1. Joseph Knight

    Alongside this, Kai and I recently completed The Unfinished Swan on the PS3/PSN. The best way I can think of to describe it is an audiovisual book that lets the player advance the story through 1st-Person art and exploration.

    It starts off with a page, first letter large and gold, as the narrator tells of a young child who loses his mother but saves one of his favorite art pieces that she did. The gameplay begins after the child follows the subject of that painting through a mysterious new door that has appeared.

    Kai was enthralled. He loved helping me decide where to go and what to do. He was excited whenever he saw another bold golden letter on the screen, as he knew once we splashed it with ink/water/whatnot it would expand to another page of the story with narration.

    It was a wonderful interactive story-telling system, and I wish there were more like it.

  2. Misa Knight Post author

    Oh yes! I should have thought to mention that.

    I also forgot to mention YouTube here. There’s all kind of resources there. I think I forgot it because it seems like a resource everybody would already know about. :/

  3. Angie

    “I do not believe technology will be the death of reading. Instead, I believe technology – especially computers – will help people learn to read better and may, perhaps, change the WAY we read.”

    YES!!! This is a wonderful post shining a light on the gift of technology and how to use it to encourage reading! Thank you for all the resources!

  4. Chessa Hickox

    Yes! Love this! Have you guys tried Reading Eggs? It’s a subscription (Homeschool Buyer’s Coop has a deal almost constantly). Silas doesn’t want to play it alllllll the time, but he does play for a while when the mood strikes him, and he’s really really made some strides with it. It’s self-paced and the lessons are on a linear, progressive track, so I can basically log in for him and then let him play, and it will advance him as his skills are mastered (and it’s iterative, keeps reinforcing the skills he’s learned). It’s almost all mini-games, with some songs and “books” thrown in, but the pacing is just right and pretty entertaining – sometimes August will just sit next to Silas and watch him play! It also has just fun stuff too, when he wants to take a break from the phonics stuff. I think it’s the only subscription that we’ve actually renewed. 🙂

    1. Misa Knight Post author

      We haven’t tried that out yet. I might do that in a month or two. What we’ve got now is working pretty well, but eventually, I’d like to change things up a bit.

  5. HSofia (@hsofia)

    Thanks for the tips. At your suggestions, I downloaded the podcasts app onto my phone and subscribed to the Story Nory podcast. I put the bluetooth speaker into Kidlet’s room (it picks up the audio from my iPhone, aka my mp3 player). Last night we listened to the Labours of Heracles, which was good. We both enjoyed the narration. Thanks for the tip.


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