March 2013

Feature Spotlight : Audio Books and Offline Access

by On March 28, 2013 in General, Releases

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While the free Bookboard trial gives you most of the full experience of using Bookboard, we know that folks have been curious about the?<strong>Premium Features</strong> they get when they <a href="">purchase a full subscription</a>. Here’s the full scoop..

<a name="unlocks">&nbsp;</a>
<h2>Unlimited Book Unlocks</h2>
<a href=""><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-1699" alt="unlock_banner" src="×292.png" width="499" height="142" /></a>

With Bookboard, kids start out with 25 books as a "sampler", and <a href="">unlock more books as they read, based on their pace, interests, and comprehension</a>. The unlock system is proven to <strong>keep kids motivated</strong> while avoiding overwhelming them with too much choice.<!–more–>

For <a href="">free trials</a>, we have to limit the number of books kids can unlock. Once your trial expires, your kids’ libraries will stop growing. When you <a href="">purchase a subscription</a>, unlocking is turned back on, so that new stories will continue to arrive at a pace your kids can handle.

<a name="audio">&nbsp;</a>
<h2>Read-to-Me Audio Books</h2>
Audio books are great when kids want to enjoy books and you aren’t available to read them aloud. We have <strong>over 100 read-to-me books</strong> available to be unlocked, and younger kids gain access to a bunch the moment you subscribe.

From there, if your kids are reading a lot of audio-books, more will be unlocked for them. Here’s a demo of the experience of "reading" audio books (watch in fullscreen!):

Notice a few important points :
<li>A new <strong>Audio Books menu button</strong> is available to show all audio books available to your kid.</li>
<li>A new <strong>toggle button</strong> inside the book,?<strong></strong>to turn "read to me" on or off (<span style="color: #ff0000;">red</span> means it’s on)</li>
<li><strong>Keep focus on the text</strong>. Kids tap on the text in order to hear it out loud, just like they do when Mom and Dad are reading to them. If they prefer, double-tap or pinch the page and have each text bubble read itself in order.</li>
<a name="offline">&nbsp;</a>
<h2>Offline Access</h2>
<a href=""><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-1706" alt="offline_banner" src="" width="498" height="185" /></a>We sweated the details here – we want kids to have access to books when they’re not connected to the Internet, but there are two problems to handle :
<li>We can’t just download all available books to your device… you’d run out of space!</li>
<li>We don’t want kids (or their parents) to need to manually download or manage books either. Staying simple enough for a 3 year old is important!</li>
The solution – when you’re online, <strong>any book you open is made available offline on that device</strong>, up to a maximum of 20 offline books. If you run over the 20 book limit, the least-recently-read book is replaced by the new one. In our ideal world, you won’t even know it’s happening, and it just works.

<h2>Coming up…</h2>
We’re not resting on our laurels here in the Bookboard labs. We’ve got a lot more coming up in terms of <strong>new books and features</strong>. It’s an exciting time, and we’re glad you’re along for the ride! And if you want <strong>access to the Premium Features above</strong>, <a title="Responding to the Books Children Choose" href="">buy a Bookboard subscription today</a>!


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Responding to the Books Children Choose

by On March 25, 2013 in General

Encyclopedia_Brown_Boy_DetectiveGrowing up, my sister and I were both strong readers who loved books. For a brief period, our Foods from Near and Farreading paths intersected. I still own a childhood book we both loved, Foods from Near and Far. I’m not sure why we both adored this story of siblings who visit a local produce market with their father. But the book is special to me because it was one we shared.

As we progressed through elementary school, our?reading paths diverged. My sister would read from dawn until dusk if she could, immersing herself in classics like Black Beauty and The Secret Garden.? I read an average amount, preferring to read light-hearted fare like Ramona the Pest and Encyclopedia Brown, or books that taught me how to do magic or tell jokes.

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Announcing Subscription Pricing & New Publishers

by On March 21, 2013 in General


It’s been a crazy last few weeks, but we’re super excited today to finally announce paid Bookboard subscriptions with premium features, and our new partnerships with Peachtree Publishers and Open Road Integrated Media. These partnerships will bring popular children’s titles, such as Berenstain Bears, Boxcar Children series, The Monster Who Ate My Peas, and many more, to our already diverse collection.

Prior to today’s announcement, we’ve been working with our existing partners – Charlesbridge, Orca Book Publishers, Twin Sisters and more – to ensure that we have books to suit your child’s daily interests.

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A St. Patrick’s Day Interview with Author Cynthia DeFelice

by On March 17, 2013 in Childrens Books, General, Reading

DeFeliceOnePotatoThis St. Patrick’s Day we have a special treat for our Bookboard readers! ?We wanted to share our enlightening conversation with acclaimed children’s book writer and storyteller?Cynthia DeFelice about one of her wonderful picture books, One Potato, Two Potato, which is set in Ireland.

The tale, beautifully illustrated by Andrea U’Ren, is the story of The O’Grady’s, an elderly Irish couple who although happy with each other and accepting of their modest life, long for enough food to eat, candles to light the dark and the company of friends. ?One day the husband digs up a magic pot in his potato patch, and they find that whatever they put into the pot comes out doubled–including themselves! ?Faced with such a gift, it is what the O’Grady’s ultimately do with it that shows the things that are truly important in life.

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Leading with leprechauns — introducing kids to their cultural heritage

by On March 15, 2013 in Childrens Books, General, Reading

irish books library enokson flickr creative commons 2011As St. Patrick’s Day draws near, leprechaun art projects line the walls of my daughter’s kindergarten classroom. The little green men are the stars of story time as well.

The holiday pleases our adopted daughter Hope who, as her birth family explained to us, is a “mostly Irish lassie.” But recently Hope told us: “I want to know more about my Irish culture than just leprechauns.”

My husband and I are not particularly well versed in this topic. This was abundantly clear as we ran to the iPad and Googled “Irish things” and “Ireland.” We found some beautiful images of Irish landscapes to show her at that moment, but we knew we had work to do.

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Every Child Ready to Read, Bookboard Style!

by On March 13, 2013 in General

In 2004, the Public Library Association and the Association for the Library Service to Children teamed up to create a structure for helping parents to understand and support their young child’s developing literacy. The first version of Every Child Ready to Read was a parent education initiative based on a report by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development entitled Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction. ?This program was designed to be delivered directly to parents in a classroom-style setting, with a librarian “presenter” explaining the 6 early literacy skills: Vocabulary, Phonological Awareness, Print awareness, Print Motivation, Letter Knowledge and Narrative Skills. Each of these were defined and explained, and parents were given tips and techniques for supporting the development of these skills in young children.

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Joint Media Engagement, Otherwise Known as “Reading with your Child”

by On March 11, 2013 in General, Reading

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Take a look at <a href="">Bookboard’s</a> demo video. Notice how Caroline and her son are cuddled up, reading books on the iPad together? We used to call this practice "reading with your child," but now researchers, librarians, policy developers and educators have a new term for it; "Joint Media Engagement."

<blockquote>"<strong>Joint media engagement</strong> (JME) refers to spontaneous and designed experiences of people using media together. JME can happen anywhere and at any time when there are multiple people interacting together with media. Modes of JME include viewing, playing, searching, reading, contributing, and creating, with either digital or traditional media. (from?<a href="">Joint Media Engagement and Learning</a>)"</blockquote><!–more–>
In 2010, the <a href="">LIFE Center</a> (a project funded by the <a href="">National Science Foundation</a>) coined the term "Joint Media Engagement," which has since become the most common librarian jargon to fall from my lips when I talk about parents and children’s reading digital books together. Research organizations like the <a href="">Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop</a>?and the <a href="">Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media</a>?pump out research on children’s consumption of media and the effects thereof, and this new research informs the practices of schools, libraries and the producers of children’s content alike. I refer to this kind of research in every workshop, webinar and training session that I run for my colleagues, because many parents and librarians still have questions about the propriety of using digital media with young children.

Conversation abounds on the interwebs about how smart phones and tablet technology are going to <a href="">ruin society</a>, but I see a huge opportunity for caregivers and children to share literacy experiences in a digital environment. "Joint Media Engagement" is what we can call this opportunity, though if you think about it, sitting with your child reading a paper book is also "Joint Media Engagement," though we didn’t really need a fancy term for it before the advent of digital media (though <a href="">co-reading</a> comes close). With the?prevalence?of "interactive" books, parents are often tempted to let the app read itself (that’s what it’s designed for, isn’t it?), but what we know now, especially after widely publicized controversies like the <a href=";partner=rss&amp;emc=rss&amp;">Baby Einstein debacle</a>,?is that children learn best from play, and by interacting with a caring adult:
<blockquote>"For optimal development, in addition to food and safety, [children]?need love. They need to be held, and they need plenty of face-to-face positive interactions?with caring adults. Developing children thrive when they are talked to, read to, and played?with. (from <a href="">Facing the Screen Dilema: Young Children, Technology and Early Education</a>)"</blockquote>
The <a href="">National Association for the Education of Young Children</a> and the <a href="">International Reading Association</a> teamed up in 1998 to produce a joint position statement entitled:?<a href="">Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children</a>. The following quote sums up the position, and is also what I aim to support in every storytime program I plan and present:
<blockquote>"The single most important activity for building [the] understandings and skills essential for reading success appears to be reading aloud to children (<a href="">Bus, Van IJzendoorn, &amp; Pellegrini, 1995</a>; <a href=";aid=2546856">Wells, 1985</a>). High-quality book reading occurs when children feel emotionally secure (<a href=";uid=4&amp;sid=21101762758591">Bus &amp; Van IJzendoorn, 1995</a>; <a href="">Bus et al., 1997</a>) and are active participants in reading (<a href=";_&amp;ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ493520&amp;ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&amp;accno=EJ493520">Whitehurst et al., 1994</a>)."</blockquote>
Parents ask me all the time what they can do to help their child read better, or for tips on speeding up their child’s brain development. Parents still come into the library asking what DVDs they can check out that will "teach" their children to play the trombone, speak Chinese or learn the periodic table. My answer is always the same: Read to your children. As much and as often as you can. Read the best books you can find. Read the books that grab their attention. Read the books that grab YOUR attention; if you’re enjoying yourself, they’re more likely to enjoy it too. ?Read a paper book, a digital book, a cloth book, the newspaper, and every other bit of text you see.?<a href=""><img class="alignright size-full wp-image-1098" src="" alt="" width="225" height="225" /></a>

In this post I’ve included more articles and?position statements?than most parents will actually have the time to work through, but what really matters the most can be summed up in the words of one of my favorite authors of all time, Rosemary Wells:

"Read to your bunny often, and your bunny will read to you."

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7 Tips for Inspiring a Child to Love Books

by On March 8, 2013 in General, Reading

Most grownups don’t need convincing that books are wonderful things. However, we may need reminding that a child’s appreciation for books isn’t a given. Some children seem to naturally love books. For others, that love must be cultivated.

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Fact or Fiction? Why Kids Should Read Both!

by On March 6, 2013 in Childrens Books, General, Reading

There’s a big debate raging, sparked by the new Common Core State Standards, which require public schools to ramp up the use of nonfiction text in the classroom in a big way. ?There seems to be a lot of back and forth about whether or not these new standards will help or hurt our children. ?Will they be more prepared for college and the workplace? ?Or will their imaginations die on the vine?

Personally, I don’t know the answer to these questions. ?I do know that my own kids have been exposed to both fiction and nonfiction at home and in the classroom, and seem to be equally enamored of both. ?At the moment, my daughter delights in reporting the adventures of the mouse protagonist of The Tale of Despereaux which she is reading at school, and my son has just surfaced from total immersion in the Alex Rider adventure books now that he’s read all nine cover to cover. ?But when he came home with a biography book report assignment, they both started reading the “Who Was” stories and now they can’t get enough of Helen Keller, Paul Revere and a number of other historical figures who, while not talking animals or super spies, are heroes in their own right.

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Reading for the First Time

by On March 4, 2013 in General, Reading

Hope taps her way to her first experience reading.

In our home, we have had the same ritual most every night since we adopted Hope, our 3-day old daughter. Nighttime is about dimming the lights, turning off all distractions, and reading books.?Today at age 5, Hope still considers story time to be the best time of the day. The husband and I share her opinion.

For the first years of her life, we’ve seen that Hope is a bright, curious, verbal kid. Her comprehension of the books we’ve read to her at each stage has been impressive. We’ve loved introducing her to some of our favorite childhood books, and having spirited conversations about characters, storylines and illustrations.

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