Butterfly in the sky! My heart broke into a million pieces a few years ago when it was announced that Reading Rainbow was being taken off the air. I wanted my kids to have the same wonderful experiences that I had while watching this beloved show. Well, Lavar Burton and Reading Rainbow are back and better than ever! I signed up for a trial membership with Reading Rainbow's new online service to be able to report back to you what I found.
WHO: Lavar Burton and Reading Rainbow
WHAT: Skybrary School, an online subscription service that provides teachers with access to hundreds of digital books and educational videos on any subject you could want.
HOW: When I signed up for a free trial of the service (which by the way - you can sign up for one too. I'm not a teacher or school employee, and even though this is touted as a service for classroom teachers, it still allowed me to sign up as a parent.) I was directed to a dashboard command center for the teacher to organize and record everything from a list of her students, what books each student read and how much time they spent reading them, a Reading Rainbow blog with literacy tips, a library tab with several hundred digital books, a tab to record and organize her reading curriculum. So much!
The digital books - as I scrolled through the books offered in the library, I saw many, many Caldecott and Newberry winners. It was a really good selection. Each book gives the option to have the book read aloud to the student, or the narration can be turned off so the student can read it for themselves.
In addition to the library, there is also Skybrary. It is like a magical world of floating islands with each island representing a different book genre. When you click on an island, you get a list of books and a collection of Reading Rainbow videos that are related to the genre. For example, I clicked on "Adventure", and I found a list of books and videos about travelling to far away places, pirates, and archaeology.
WHERE: https://www.readingrainbow.com/school The subscription is a bit pricey. It is $179 for a yearly membership. I do feel like teachers would really use this though, and I know that purchasing the amount of books available in their online library would be way over the cost of membership.
VERDICT: Despite the price of membership being a bit high, I was impressed with the quality and quantity of great kids lit that Skybrary offers. The graphics were fun and interactive. I know my kids would be really engaged with the material offered here. I might see if several parents in my child's class want to go in together on a membership for our teacher as an end of the year gift. Go to the website and give it a free try today. Signing up gives you an entire month of great books and videos for free!