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App of the Week - Reading Rainbow

By Sarah Combs

The Reading Rainbow app is now available!

And it’s magical. The app is an awesome second screen adaptation of the classic television show with one really important difference – you can access the recommended books through the app.

There’s a parent account lets you keep track of your child's reading, and there's tons of good video content and an ever-expanding book library. You even get a free book when you download the app! It truly doesn’t disappoint.

LeVar Burton (yes, the Reading Rainbow guy) was speaking about his new app and technology in education recently. I attended the SXSWedu conference a while back and had the chance to sit in on his presentation. He discussed how technology has the potential to kill our sense of wonder and to steal something that’s so uniquely human: the art of storytelling.

But this wasn’t a tirade against screens.

LeVar clearly sees the potential that TV, and now apps, have to reach a mass audience and change how kids view the world. He even said that the advances we’re seeing today will be the biggest change in education since chalk. He sees new technology as simply a highly effective outlet for the message that he has worked all of his life to convey: Life-long learning depends on passion, imagination, and curiosity.

You don’t have to think too hard when everything is presented to you.

Not only all of the information you could ever want, but all of the content that you could ever need to keep you entertained. All of the cartoons to pass Saturday mornings, all of the answers to your questions at your fingertips, all of the games you could want to play from the comfort of your living room (and the social distance that a screen provides).

You don’t need to imagine what a character looks like, what they sound like, what their mannerisms are when you can see them on a screen. You don’t have to develop intricate landscapes in your mind, or envision the small details of day-to-day life for people in this world. There’s no work required on your part.

The best use of screen time is when there is something missing from the experience, a bit of the circle that you have to fill in yourself. Anything that requires you to use your imagination to complete the picture. Don’t be a passive consumer of media and mindless user of the technology that’s available. Find ways to use what’s out there to learn more about your passions and to tell your own stories.

Reading Rainbow is recommended for Toddlers, and Kids (Ages 0 to 10) for a whole new world of reading experiences. Find screenshots, reviews, and family-friendly ratings for Reading Rainbow and more of the best iPad apps at Famigo.com.

Developer: Reading Rainbow

Compatibility: iPad (iOS 5.0 or later)

App Category: Education

Price: Free!

Famigo Family Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Comment by Keleehkeleeh , posted 3/30/2014, 4:24 PM:

We love the reading rainbow app but I wish they had parent controls. My son is on the "spectrum" and wants to add books and then return them repetitively. Also many of the books have an animation feature and I feel it gets in the way ( at least for us) I don't believe that things on the page have to be moving to keep a child's attention. The videos are great but they also become a distraction. it turns into a meltdown because there are too many choices and he gets over stimulated.
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