Toontastic Joins Google

7843_550922118279748_965286584_nGoogle has acquired Launchpad Toysthe makers of the Toontastic storytelling app. Now you can download Toontastic for free (along with the company’s TeleStory app).

I interviewed Launchpad co-founder Andy Russell a couple times while writing Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age. His company creates apps that let kids make their own cartoons using digital characters and powerful special effects.

“Our nearly four million storytellers around the globe will be able to look back on their portfolio of stories, photos, and memories of their childhood and perhaps, someday, even share them with their own kids.”

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The Bookstore Quest

quest_coverA trip to the bookstore can be a magical experience for born reading kids.

There are many ways to make these visits exciting, but one dad turned his bookstore visit into a genuine adventure. On Reddit, one father posted the heartwarming story of how he helped his nearly three year old son let go of the pacifier.

On his son’s 1,000th day of life, a mysterious box appeared at the house. His son decided to put his pacifier in the box, and a magical bookstore adventure began…

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Interactive Apps & eBooks for Kids

kid-with-school-supplies-and-tabletWhen was the last time you shared an app with the kids in your life? Below, I’ve created a long list of great apps that parents and caregivers can use with kids.

Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age illustrates the art of “interactive reading,” simple techniques developed by experts over the last 25 years to maximize the benefits of reading aloud to a child. Nothing can replace the experience of a child reading with a parent or caregiver—not even the best “interactive” digital materials.

We don’t need to stop using digital devices with children, but we need to make sure these experiences are truly interactive. Apps, e-books and even television time can all be improved when a caregiver participates in the process. No matter what kind of media you use with a child, ask them questions to help them process the experience.

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Ballet Born Reading Bundle

oliviafairyDoes the kid in your life love ballet?

Last month, I read Ian Falconer’s Olivia and the Fairy Princesses at my daughter’s preschool. It is a fantastic book, introducing kids to independent thinking, modern dance and the work of dancer Martha Graham.

In a funny sequence of illustrations, the main character reenacts Graham’s famous dance, “Lamentation.” The kids acted out this dance as I read, discovering that dance is more than just ballerinas and fairy princesses.

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Best Children’s Book Treasuries

0554_jpg__659×947_My daughter Olive loves it when we discover a new children’s book treasury at the library.

These special collections include multiple storybooks in a single book, giving her a chance to choose stories from the table of contents and keep reading her favorite books.

Over at Goodreads, I created a list of The Best Children’s Book Treasuries. These are the twenty best treasuries we uncovered at our library, books we have read over and over again at home.

What are your favorites? Add them to the list or vote on your favorite within the list. I’ve also made a list of free digital treasuries you can download online to read on any kind of device. Just follow the links below to download…

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Free Classic Books for Kids

53_1When I was a kid, I adored the Free Stuff for Kids book series. 

I read those books like a monk poring over a sacred scroll, writing companies for free samples of stickers, stamps, and little gadgets. There was something so magical about discovering something free in the book and sending out the letter myself.

I hope that your kids can have that experience of discovery too, even if they aren’t mailing letters. But instead of a Free Stuff for Kids book, you can help them find vast libraries of free (and completely legal) eBooks they can download by themselves.

Just follow the links below to build a free digital library for your kids…

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Science Fiction Born Reading Bundle

Cosmo_and_the_Robot__Brian_Pinkney__9780688159412__Amazon_com__Books-261x300My daughter Olive loved reading Cosmo and the Robot by Brian Pinkney. This science fiction picture book recounts the adventures of two kids living on Mars. They explored the red planet, saved a broken robot and used a variety of space tools in their adventures.

In Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age, I described how Olive and I turned that book into an elaborate game–reenacting the entire book with my daughter’s toys. Extending our interactive reading of the book, we literally acted out the book in her room.

Below, I’ve linked to all the different books, apps, games and other digital materials we used to build this Born Reading Bundle. If you are looking for more science fiction picture books for kids, check out this excellent Goodreads list.


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B.J. Novak Illustrates Interactive Reading

bookwithnopicturesActor and author B.J. Novak demonstrated the art of interactive reading in a video about his new kid’s book, The Book with No Pictures.

Despite the fact it doesn’t have a single illustration, the book has interactive reading techniques literally built into the pages: dramatization, questions for the kids, and plenty of opportunities to stop and discuss what happens in the book.

I outline more of these reading strategies in my Born Reading Playbook, but if you are unsure about how to make kids participate when you read, this book (and book video) will help you learn.

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Crafts Based on Children’s Books

children“Follow the things your child loves” is the foundation of Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age.

When your kid loves a particular book, you should go online and find more activities related to that book. Most authors have websites these days, loaded with free activities, games, crafts and pictures.

Below, I made of a list of great craft pages based on some of my daughter’s favorite books. These resources will help your kids make crafts and continue exploring the stories that they love…

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Born Reading Bundle for Disney’s Frozen

snowqueenIs the kid in your life obsessed with Disney’s Frozen?

Instead of forcing children to read about something they don’t care about, help them find more books and multimedia materials related to the hit movie.

In Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age, I encourage kids and caregivers to explore all kinds of media: good old fashioned books, eBooks, apps, educational TV and quality movies.

To build healthy media diets, I created a number of Born Reading Bundles–reading experiences that combine materials across media boundaries.

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