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Teachers can approach Speakaboos as they would a library. Set up a reading corner and let kids discover new worlds as they explore the books. Younger kids can always choose "read to me," but keep on eye on older kids to encourage them to choose "read it myself." Be familiar with what's available, and help kids choose books based on their reading level. When kids are done, help them make a list of the books they read. Ask them about what they read and what they learned. Have them make a drawing, write a sequel, or express their thoughts in some way about the story that interested them the most. Teachers also can present the stories to the whole class or to small groups. Look at the "real-life" books and then have kids share what they do in their real lives. Make sure there also are plenty of hard-copy books for kids to read as well.Continue reading Show less
Speakaboos is a subscription-based digital library that includes some classic fairy tales and fables, other fiction and nonfiction stories, and songs. The kids area shows icons representing different themes (dinosaurs, music, classics, vehicles, and so on) or licensed characters (Sid the Science Kid, Angelina Ballerina, and more); clicking on these icons shows all the books available on that theme. All books have a "read to me" option, some have a "read myself" option, and some also have a "read and play" option by which kids can interact with the story.
From the kids area, teachers verify their year of birth to enter the grown-up area. There, teachers can browse the library freely or with filters such as theme, Lexile level, story length, and more and see images and a summary of each story. Speakaboos offers a 7-day free trial; after the trial expires, teachers or parents can sign up for a paid monthly or annual subscription.
The best thing about Speakaboos is the ease with which kids can navigate a large library of books: Hundreds of stories and songs are literally right at their fingertips. There's a collection of classic tales and a few intriguing stories, but other than that, the books are not great literature; simple books about everyday life seem more prevalent than fiction. But most books do have high-quality graphics and language that is simple but usually not overly so. Overall, the content is best suited for a young crowd. Read-aloud options make it easy for beginning readers, and the narration quality is super, but it would be nice if all, rather than some, books had a "read myself" option as well. Some books have a fun added bonus with a few interactive features, which will certainly engage and excite kids, but those added features sometimes take away from the reading-for-the-sake-of-reading experience. Kids who are familiar with various TV characters will particularly enjoy the character books -- especially the ones they can interact with. Teachers also have great search tools that can help them find books that fit very specific criteria.
It's disappointing, though, that teachers can't recommend particular books to certain kids and that kids can't create a reading list or a personal library. For a more authentic book-reading experience, it would be nice to see the text integrated into the images rather than as an overlay (which even sometimes covers the image completely). Overall, this digital library is reasonably appealing and, most of all, easily accessible.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Foundational Skills
Read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.
Read on-level text with purpose and understanding.
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