Archive for the ‘engage readers’ Category

Big Universe – Read, Create, and Share Children’s Books Online

December 7, 2009

Are you looking for an interactive website that will entertain and educate your child?  Big Universe is a fantastic website that offers books online for your child’s reading pleasure.  Children can read, create and publish their own books, or share books online.  For the low price of $9.95 a month, your family can subscribe to this website and gain access to over 1,000 books.

I, personally, am not prepared to give up the traditional paper book reading experience for the new reading technology that is out there, including reading books online.  However, the book reading experience on Big Universe is set up just like reading an actual paper book.  The pages turn as if you physically turned them yourself.  You can even use the sound effects, which make it sound like the pages are turning.  You can browse the books by grade, subject, reading level, interest, subject categories, or language.  The books are available in 13 languages.  I really love the fact that in addition to plenty of fiction picture books, there is plenty of nonfiction picture books offered as well!

Not only can your child read books online, but he/she can create his/her own books and publish them as well!  How cool is that!  Big Universe provides the reader with tutorial videos to help you or your child understand how to get started creating a book online.  This includes adding illustrations or photographs.  A few ideas: your child can create his or her own original stories, write a sequel to a favorite book, or write an ABC book based on a favorite topic or event.   As a parent, you could create books to teach your child (i.e. learn letter sounds, comparison of two concepts), share and explain family traditions, or a book re-living a family vacation.

Big Universe touches on social media with its sharing process.  Families can create virtual bookshelves and share books they’ve read through these bookshelves.  Families can also recommend books to other members of the site or share their published books.  Of course, families can always opt to keep their information private and only publish on their own homepage.

If you are looking for a way to engage your child in reading and writing, I highly encourage you to check out this website.  Not only does it engage and educate, but it’s fun, too!

If you are interested in how Big Universe may work for teachers, check out my post at Picture This!  Teaching with Picture Books.

What is Literacy?

November 2, 2009 describes literacy as “the quality or state of being literate, especially the ability to read or write.”  I would go further to say that literacy also includes speaking and listening.  But, literacy isn’t just about the physical act of reading, writing, speaking, and listening; it includes the enjoyment of and the engagement in reading and writing.  Literate children find reading fun and exciting.  They use reading to learn about a wide range of subjects and they use writing to share what they learn. 

As a teacher, it was my goal that students left my classroom better readers and writers than when they first stepped in.  In order to accomplish that, we immersed ourselves in literacy.  We read, we wrote, we spoke, and we listened.  But, we also immersed ourselves in books.  It wasn’t just about academics, it was about becoming engaged readers because we wanted to read, not because we had to read.
I have done the same at home.  My children have been immersed in books since they each joined our family.  I’ve read to them every day since they were born (and really before, if you count the reading I did when they were in utero).  We talk about the books we read.  We look forward to and enjoy our reading time together. 
It is my belief that parents are children’s first teachers.  If we don’t entice our children with literacy in the first five years, it makes it a lot harder for children to become engaged readers when they begin formal schooling.  It is so important that we model for our children the importance of reading every day.  We can do this by being readers ourselves.  But, we can also do this by reading to our children.      
Two fantastic resources to guide parents (and teachers) when reading aloud to children are: The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox.
In future posts this month, I hope to share some ways that my family incorporates literacy into our everyday lives.  In the meantime, what ways do you incorporate literacy into lives of children from birth to age five?

Happy Reading,