I grew up singing, “Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high....” This catchy tune was the theme song for the Reading Rainbow show. Back in the day when you watched the television show, your guide Mr. Levar Burton (from Star Trek) introduced you to books that were narrated by a reader, and you got to see the pictures from the book. The audience would sit there and watch the story unfold on their television set. The audience did not choose the books. It was a passive activity.
Today, children can experience Reading Rainbow in a much more active way. The same butterfly tune can be heard via the Reading Rainbow app. A treasure trove of books can be accessed from the Skybrary.
To get started, parents and/or teachers create an account for a child using the Reading Rainbow app. A free trial account gives the child 5 books to place in their virtual backpack.
An easy navigation system allows the child to decide: “Read by Myself” or “Read to Me.” Arrows are used to turn pages backward, forward, or a middle arrow that lets the child see all the pages at a glance. At the end of the book, the child can “Start Over” or “Close” the book. If the child sees an overlay making a circular twirl on the page, s/he can click on the twirl and observe interactive graphics.
The child is able to customize his or her own virtual backpack. Not only does the backpack turn into the unique theme, so does the rest of the background graphics on the screen. For example, if the child selects the blue rocket ship, the backpack and the rest of the graphics reflect that rocket ship motif. This exciting new world of Reading Rainbow has incredible opportunities for readers to tailor their literacy experience. The sky is the limit!