SKYBRARY by Reading Rainbow
Like many thirty-somethings, I grew up watching LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow each week. Is the theme song playing in your head right now? Are you smiling? Reading Rainbow is an iconic, award-winning children’s series loved by so many the world over. Millions of children learned to love reading with LeVar each week. When the series went off the air in November 2006, I mourned a bit. I bought some Reading Rainbow DVDs to have for my children, DVDs which we continue to enjoy today, as a sort of going away gift. In my mind, it was the end of an era in children’s media and children’s literacy.
…Or, was it?
Did the end of the children’s series leave room for something greater? Was this just the beginning of Reading Rainbow’s impact on children the world over? I think the answer is a resounding YES!
The reality is, we are living in a digital age. It was once very easy to grow a love of reading among children through the family television set, but times have changed. More folks are turning to e-readers and more children are playing games on tablets. In 2012, the Reading Rainbow app (for iPad and Kindle Fire) was launched. The Reading Rainbow app quickly became the number one children’s tablet service. Teachers everywhere asked for the app to be available in their classrooms, so that Reading Rainbow could reach those children who do not have access to Kindles and iPads.
In June of 2013, Reading Rainbow acted upon these requests with a Kickstarter campaign. The goal of the campaign was to raise money to fund a web-based program so that Reading Rainbow could once again meet the needs of all children – not just those lucky enough to have access to tablets– and grow readers. The end goal of the campaign was for classrooms to have free access to Reading Rainbow, along with support for educators. Can you imagine if all children had access to Reading Rainbow both at home and at school?
Having worked as a school psychologist in the Boston-area public schools, I know first-hand how unfair the educational playing field is. Far too many children grow up without books in their homes. There are children who aren’t read to daily. The word gap is real, folks. Those who are read to early and often are at a distinct advantage over those who do not have this privilege. Those who grow up with too few books, those who are not read to regularly, are at risk of school failure and dropping out entirely.
The Reading Rainbow campaign was one of the most successful campaigns in Kickstarter’s history. I shed happy tears when I learned they had surpassed the $1 million goal in only 11 hours. It gives me chills to think that my generation of Reading Rainbow book lovers loves and trusts the program so strongly that more than 100,000 people contributed to help this future generation of Reading Rainbow kids.
On May 13, 2015, less than one year after the super-successful Kickstarter campaign, Reading Rainbow fulfilled their Kickstarter promise by launching their new online service: SKYBRARY by Reading Rainbow. I’m here today to tell you all about SKYBRARY. My kids have been using it for the past couple of weeks and they are absolutely in love. I think it’s going to be a game-changer in the lives of so many children.
And… guess what?
I’m giving away *FIVE* one-year SKYBRARY subscriptions!
That’s right, folks, you’d better keep reading!
What is SKYBRARY by Reading Rainbow?
SKYBRARY is an all-new web-based digital library filled with hand-selected children’s books and educational, story-driven, video field trips.
- SKYBRARY is designed for children ages 2-9 years old.
- SKYBRARY is accessible to any child with internet access- whether that access is at home, at the public library, or in the classroom setting.
- SKYBRARY provides adventure-based and unlimited book reading and video field trip experiences.
- SKYBRARY has over 500 books available, with new titles added each week.
- SKYBRARY has over 150 video field trips, in addition to many of your old, vintage Reading Rainbow video clips!
- Children have the option of reading books independently, or having books read aloud by LeVar Burton and many other wonderful storytellers. Books include animated elements to enhance the reading experience.
- All titles and minutes spent reading are logged in the Parent Dashboard.
- SKYBRARY is created by Reading Rainbow – a brand that parents grew up with and trust.
- A much-anticipated classroom version of SKYBRARY, which includes standards-based lesson plans, a complete teacher dashboard, and other educator-specific tools is slated for release this fall.
How does SKYBRARY by Reading Rainbow work?
- You can access SKYBRARY on the web, or by using an iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android tablet.
- Each child is given their own Reading Rainbow Flying License. You get to take a photo for your license and then you are asked to share your age and a few favorite interests with SKYBRARY. This way, each child’s learning adventure is personalized.
- Once your child’s license is complete, it’s time to head off in a hot air balloon in search of adventure! Children can fly to one of seven themed islands, each featuring books and video content related to its theme:
- Action Adventures & Magical Tales
- Genius Academy
- Awesome People
- National Geographic Kids
- Animal Kingdom
- My Friends My Family
- Music Mountain (featuring Kindermusik)
- Children can choose either “read by myself” or “read to me” for each book.
- Each book contains animated elements to increase the experience and fun!
- There are tons of books available through SKYBRARY. If your child falls in love with one and wants to read it over and over again (remember, children learn through repetition!), they can save it in their online “backpack.”
- As incentive, children can earn stickers by reading SKYBRARY books.
- Each island has themed video field trips that demonstrate to children that one can truly “go anywhere” or “be anything” when you’re a reader. Did you ever want a backstage pass to the White House, Cirque du Soleil, the Grand Canyon, or the Los Angeles Ballet? Look no further, folks!
- Parents are able to log in to a password-protected dashboard, where you are able to view the books that your children have been enjoying and the reading minutes logged.
So, what does this mom and school psychologist think about SKYBRARY?
Folks, I love it!
I LOVE IT.
It’s like the original Reading Rainbow but better because it provides unlimited access to books, a personalized experience, and it will reach more children.
The reality is, there are so many options for screen time nowadays. Anyone who has read this site for any length of time is already aware that we aren’t a big screen-family. We can go days, weeks even, without turning on the television. However, this is READING RAINBOW and LeVar Burton. Reading Rainbow has been around for thirty-two years! I have absolutely no qualms with my children using a screen to access SKYBRARY. Quite frankly, I love that my children are experiencing Reading Rainbow, just as I did as a child.It is a truly enriching, trusted, award-winning, and educational experience.
I honestly believe that SKYBRARY by Reading Rainbow is going to be a game-changer for those children who don’t have overflowing book baskets at home. SKYBRARY is going to grow a new generation of readers one book at a time via a computer or tablet, just as it did years ago via television. It is going to change the lives of children who live in poverty, children who aren’t read to daily either because their parents are working or because their parents are not literate. SKYBRARY is going to help level the educational playing field, and it is going to do so in classic Reading Rainbow style.
Do you know what I have always loved about Reading Rainbow? Reading Rainbow has never claimed to teach children how to read. It’s not doing any sort of pushing toward academic skills. Instead, Reading Rainbow shares great books and tells fantastic stories and, by doing so, it creates a life-long, lasting connection between young children and books.
And, Moms and Dads will be happy to learn that the Reading Rainbow theme song is included and it’s the same! Every single time I hear that song, I go back.
Bottom line, folks: SKYBRARY is an amazing educational activity from a trusted source, but you don’t have to take MY word for it! (See what I did right there???)
What my 7-year-old son enjoyed
Leo loved that you can read so many books in one sitting. He’s been enjoying reading about magical tales. He has been watching lots of videos from the Genius Academy (science) island. Leo is also very excited that new books and videos are added weekly.
What my 5-year-old daughter loved
Miss T loved to learn about how to be healthy and strong. She has been enjoying reading about how to keep your body healthy through food and exercise. She has enjoyed the videos from the Awesome People and My Friends My Families islands.
What my 3-year-old has to say
Seuss has been reading about pirates and trains and music. He’s been having a blast visiting the animal and music-themed islands for fun videos and field trips.
How can I sign up for SKYBRARY?
SKYBRARY is available on the web, for iPad, Kindle Fire, and Android tablets here. SKYBRARY offers a 14-day FREE trial with unlimited access to books and videos. After the trial period expires, the following subscription plans are available:
$9.99 per month
$29.99 for six months
$49.99 for an annual membership
The much-anticipated classroom version of SKYBRARY, which includes standards-based lesson plans, a complete teacher dashboard, and other educator-specific tools is slated for release this fall.
Here’s how you can enter to win one of FIVE 1-year SKYBRARY subscriptions:
I’m so excited to share SKYBRARY with you guys! I am giving away FIVE 1-year subscriptions to SKYBRARY by Reading Rainbow. Here’s how to enter:
Now, it’s your turn… Did you grow up on Reading Rainbow? What was your favorite episode? Share your stories here, I love hearing from you all!
Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high.
Take a look, it’s in a book, a Reading Rainbow!
I can go anywhere.
Friends to know,
and ways to grow.
A Reading Rainbow!
I can be anything.
Take a look,
it’s in a book.
A Reading Rainbow.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written in partnership with SKYBRARY by Reading Rainbow. I received the product in exchange for an honest review. I want you to know that all opinions expressed herein are my own. I only recommend products that I would use with my own family, and my family is currently obsessed with SKYBRARY.
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Scary Mommy, GeekMom, and many others. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram