Access to Books is Crucial for Kids — Part 4, ONLINE and EBOOKS

These days, I’d be totally remiss if I didn’t mention the role computers and e-readers play in giving kids access to books.

There are a plethora of reading opportunities for kids with all the technology available to them these days. There are, of course, traditional books that have simply been morphed into e-books, but there are also books that are created especially for the e-market, apps that allow children to interact with characters and situations and have fun while getting into the “book” experience, and there are also many websites that either enhance a child’s reading experience or help adults find books for their kids.

Let’s take a look at some of these, shall we?

Note: if I don’t mention your book, it’s not meant as a slight, it’s merely that there’s only so much space in a blog post! Also, I received no compensation whatsoever from the companies mentioned here. This is merely an informational post, not an advertisement.

uTales is a relatively new venture that pairs writers and illustrators and gives them the opportunity to collaborate to produce their books on the uTales ebook platform, which can be read on one’s computer, or via a downloadable app. The books are then available either as one-time reads or can be purchased so that they can be read over and over again. To learn more about one author’s experience publishing her first book on uTales, I hope you’ll click through to Joanna Marple’s blog and read about Snow Games.

iBooks allows authors to publish their books — picture book or otherwise — on a platform that can be read on iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Eric vanRaepenbusch has used this platform to publish his delightful picture books about the Three Ghost Friends. (Note: his books are also available for Kindle.) His website, in the Three Ghost Friends link above, gives activities and crafts to build on kids’ experiences reading his books.

Apps allow kids to extend their experiences of a book in imaginative and fun ways. One example is The Very Fairy Princess App, which works on iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Check it out here, and wave a sparkly wand, add a crown to your photo, generally add some SPARKLE to your life! Of course, there is a plethora of other apps out there, just waiting to be downloaded and played. EDITED TO ADD: Julie Hedlund has written an excellent blogpost regarding writing storybook apps that gives an overview of some of the best apps currently available. The One Thing You Must Do…

Some author’s websites offer extra activities, games, and crafts to go along with their books. A great example is Kate McMullan‘s site, which even shows kids the process of creating a picture book from first idea to finished product.

There are also some websites out there that make choosing and reading regular books an enriched experience. This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are a few:

James Patterson’s Read Kiddo Read provides booklists for various ages, along with author interviews, an e-newsletter, a community to become involved in, and the list goes on.

Peter and Paul Reynolds’ site, Fablevision, carries creativity to a whole new level, with their media and technology studio, educator resource center, and FablePlace, with stories, telefables, and games — and more!

And, of course, there’s Susanna Leonard Hill’s wonderful blog, where several of us gather every Friday during the school year, to recommend Perfect Picture Books. We’ll be starting up again on September 7th. In the meantime, you can see the many and varied titles we recommended during the last school year, by clicking here.

This is just a spoonful of the hot fudge sundae that is the many resources available via technology to help kids to access books and to keep kids reading. And with this post, my series on ensuring that kids have access to books has come to an end. I hope that you — and your kids — will keep dipping into the reading sundae, and keep turning those pages, real or cyber.


GIVEAWAY REMINDER: As with all the posts this month, a comment on this post will enter you in the drawing for a copy of Emma Walton Hamilton’s book Raising Bookworms: Getting Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment.


25 thoughts on “Access to Books is Crucial for Kids — Part 4, ONLINE and EBOOKS”

  1. I’m reading this right after Julie’s post on apps, and it’s making me realize I’ve got to enter the digital world a bit more. I’m such a traditionalist, but there are all kinds of neat things out there to explore! And it’s true, for today’s child reader there are so many more choices, which will hopefully mean there’s a way to make reading fun and accessible to all kids 🙂

  2. It is amazing how many options are out there now for writers and illustrators. The opportunities for sharing a story are so varied and interesting! Thanks, Beth.

  3. Thank you so much for the shout out for uTales and SNOW GAMES, Beth. This is a great post giving us a taste of the truly wide and changing ways that children can have access to stories these days!

    1. I love the touch and experience of real books, too, Erik — but it’s fascinating to see what else can be done with the concept of “book.” Thanks!

  4. Thankyou for an informative post! I was only just thinking the other day as I watched my little nephew doing some homework on my laptop here in NZ while on holiday with me, how far computors have come in the school network. Of all things he had to read a story, followed by word play and puzzles set by his teacher so he didn’t miss out on any school work, incredible, and this is for eight year olds. I am checking out a couple of links you posted.

    1. Thanks, Diane! Your nephew’s experience is certainly different from what we would have done in a similar situation when we were eight! Fascinating stuff.

  5. Thanks for all the information, Beth. You did a great job of highlighting different options. It’s overwhelming sometimes, but stuff we need to know. I am loving James Patterson’s booklists. Thanks for making me aware of it.

  6. This is a great post, Beth! I hope that digital options will provide kids with greater access to books. There is the concern that ebooks and apps will be more accessible to those in the upper income brackets, but over time I think it might become an inexpensive means for libraries (and even homes) to keep dozens, if not hundreds, of books in various forms on a single device.

    1. Thanks, Julie! I’ve just edited my post to add a link to your fabulous post about apps. And your mention of income brackets tweaked my memory, and I must go searching for something I *think* I read… I feel another blogpost coming on!

      1. Thanks Beth! Better be careful though… you’re falling down the rabbit hole. LOL! 🙂

        Seriously, I hope you do write that post. So much we all still need to learn!

  7. Beth, this is a great post! You’ve provided a wealth of information. Just enough for everyone to check out. Funny, we did overlap a bit. With so many school districts adding iPads to the classroom (at least in Dayton) I expect it will be standard in a few years. Kids will have to keep up with the growing technology to prepare for college. Hopefully all kids will have access at least at school.

    1. Thanks, Pat! Peter and Paul do such creative things, it’s great that we both highlighted some of their work today. Like you, I hope there will be a way for all kids to have access to technology in some way, without income barriers causing a have and have-not situation.

  8. I’d heard of uTales but not all of the various options mentioned here. It is wonderful the way technology is opening the doors to access to books as well.

  9. Great post. Love the Read Kiddo Read link. I’ve been trying to find more books for my seven year old son and found some great ones there. Thanks, Beth!

  10. Wow Beth! You’ve provided us with some great links to enjoy. I think it is so generous of you to give this list. Although you’ve mentioned some amazing stories and amazing people. We can’t get around it. Touch tech storytelling is here to stay. Whatever encourages a love for reading and creative engagement, I’m all for it. Great post, Beth!

  11. Pingback: Addendum to Access to Books is Crucial for Kids — Ebooks in Developing Countries

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