NSF-Funded Digital Library for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers Now Available on App Stores
(7 months ago)
CHICAGO: ReadAskChat, a National Science Foundation funded early-learning system, launched its digital library for children 0-4 that embeds on-demand guidance for parents and caregivers in a method of interactive (or "dialogic") reading-an activity the American Academy of Pediatrics says is vital for children's development.
The research-based ReadAskChat method uniquely fosters child-adult interactions about stories, poems, and math and science features at three developmental levels—baby, toddler, and preschooler. Open-ended conversation starters and prompts for singing, chanting, and imaginative play promote word acquisition and other prereading and school-readiness skills. An option to view conversation starters in Spanish and story text in English honors the home language in Spanish-speaking homes while providing early exposure to English.
The brain and social-science research underlying the ReadAskChat method is discussed in a white paper that may be viewed on the ReadAskChat website. The ReadAskChat format differs from other digital storybooks. "Young children only learn language and social-emotional behaviors from their caregivers, not from digital sources," explains Carolyn Saper, ReadAskChat cofounder and president. "So we designed ReadAskChat to be parent-mediated. This means it's the very opposite of a 'babysitting app.' There are no voiceovers or distracting bells and whistles. Instead, ReadAskChat is something parents and children do together. We only include artwork and features that can appeal to adults as well as to children. We know from experience that when adults are having fun with stories, their kids will, too."
The goal of ReadAskChat is to make high-quality children's books accessible to families from all cultural and economic backgrounds and to guide them in ways to have meaningful conversations about the ideas they evoke. The ReadAskChat dual business model reaches individual families through app stores while offering bulk subscriptions to community organizations and schools that focus on early learning and literacy and/or parenting education. Institutions also receive a rich set of training materials to support parents, home visitors, and teachers in implementing a strong—and enjoyable—ReadAskChat program.