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”.