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Ready to Learn Reading
Pros: Fun, familiar characters and thoughtfully designed activities draw kids in.
Cons: In this overwhelming site, it's easy to get lost and hard to return home.
Bottom Line: A great variety of activities to inspire and develop reading and story building skills, but navigation is tricky.
Kids can visit Ready to Learn Reading individually or in small groups to play games or watch video clips. You can use the storyboards in the cartoon studio and writers' contest sections to teach kids about what makes a story. You may also want to visit the parents section for great information on reading milestones, tips on helping kids become readers, and hands-on activity suggestions. Teachers of preschoolers can have their kids sign up for PBS Kids Island accounts and track each kids' developing literacy skills. Over the summer, Ready to Learn Reading sponsored a summer reading challenge where kids could log reading hours to earn prizes. You could have kids participate during the summer, or set up something similar for the school year.
Editor's Note: Ready to Learn Reading is no longer a section on the PBS Kids site.
Ready to Learn Reading from PBS is a collection of material geared towards helping children become readers. Kids can watch reading-themed video clips from PBS Kids shows (for example, letters with Super Why!, storytime with Daniel Tiger), or play reading games (from fundamental reading skills like recognizing letters to reading and writing stories). There's a also a link to a word-filled adventure called Word Quest where kids can earn points and prizes and to PBS Kids Island where kids who create free accounts can play games and track their reading progress. In the cartoon studio and writers contest, kids create their own cartoons, or learn how to write and illustrate their own story and submit it to a local PBS station sponsored writing contest. Many games and activities align with a wide variety of Common Core Standards including basic literacy skills and reading, writing, and interpreting stories.
Like most PBS Kids offerings, Ready to Learn Reading is chock-full of high quality activities that are sure to capture kids' attention. Solid learning content is seamlessly integrated into (mostly) everything that kids do. There are some games and activities that are more on target and/or on topic than others. For example, not all "reading" games are strictly related to reading themes. The creation tools are especially interesting, as they give kids a nice forum and structure (what makes a story?) in which they can let their imaginations run wild. The most significant drawback is a common PBS site problem: PBS Kids is a massive collection; once kids click off the reading page to start an activity, it can be very easy to get lost. More distinct boundaries with fewer links to unrelated content would help kids focus on what they came for (in this case, reading activities).