Reading Rainbow is Back — As an App

Posted on June 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm

One of my all-time favorite television shows for children was the PBS series “Reading Rainbow,” with LeVar Burton and a bunch of kids talking about the books they loved.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6j8EiWIVZs

It’s back, now as an app that encourages kids to read and provides them with access to e-versions of some of the best in children’s literature.

Designed for children 3-9 years of age, the App delivers a library of hundreds of curated books and all new videos presented in a world of adventure and discovery. Traveling to themed islands, such as Animal Kingdom, My Friends, My Family and Genius Academy, kids find a variety of books and videos customized to their age and interests. The App brings together books from numerous acclaimed children’s publishers. Each book comes alive with audio storytelling by celebrity actors, including spoken word Grammy winner Burton himself, and features light animations and related activities to enhance the story.  Similar to the original series, children journey with Burton on exciting real-life adventures. These in-app video field trips connect the stories children read to the world they live in and use a combination of newly produced video as well as classic segments from the TV show.

The App’s many features include a reward system in which children earn digital stickers to motivate a continued exploration of books and frequent reading. For parents, ReadingRainbow.com offers a companion website and dashboard to get updates regarding time their child spent reading, books read and suggestions for new stories based on the child’s interests. “Family Reading Time” hints provide opportunities to discuss themes and lessons explored in each book.

At launch, the App will include 150 books and 16 video field trips. New content will be added to the service on a regular and frequent schedule expanding the library, themes and topics children can explore.

“We’re excited to offer a safe experience designed just for kids,” notes Asra Rasheed, RRKidz CEO. “We’ve created an easy-to-use subscription service for parents, allowing them to unlock the extensive Reading Rainbow library books and videos without the worry of approving and purchasing each item separately.” The Reading Rainbow App is free for download on the iPad and includes the ability to fully explore the App, the islands, videos and to select one book to read. The subscription is now available for a limited-time introductory price of $9.99 a month or $29.99 for six months at the App Store.

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Maps of Enchanted Places

Posted on February 11, 2012 at 8:00 am

The Awl has a wonderful illustrated story by Victoria Johnson featuring maps of the imaginary worlds of children’s literature.  The maps of The Phantom Tollbooth, The Princess Bride, Winnie the Pooh, The Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit, and more are as inviting as the stories that take place there.  And when the publisher and author neglect to include a map, sometimes the fans will supply their own.  Johnson points to some fan maps of the land in The Hunger Games.

I love this description of the map in The Princess Bride.  (If you are a fan of the movie and have not read the book — full title The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure — please give it a try.)  Johnson writes:

 

The map is a doozy—jammed full of details, landmarks, labels, and with no perspective whatsoever. I mean, the Sun is on this map. The trees are the same size as the ships.

As a map: The map is deliberately evoking the feel of a Medieval illuminated manuscript, as this is an exaggerated version of how many maps looked around the times of princesses and feudal castles. Though examples of these kingdom-level maps are abundant and accessible, I’d like to particularly draw your attention to collection of sixteenth-century maps of Jerusalem, made available by The Jewish National University Library. The gallery beautifully illustrates the diversity to be found in this type of region-specific map. While none of them include the Sun, like Goldman’s map, they often use multiple perspectives to show the mapped lands.

 

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