What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that a paid subscription is needed to view much of the Speakaboos content. Users can sign up for a subscription, where they are asked to provide a name and credit card information. There is no free account, but users can access limited free content without signing up for anything and subscribe to a free newsletter for additional free content.
What's it about?
The SPEAKABOOS site lets kids listen to stories -- ranging from traditional fairy tales to ones about popular characters such as Arthur -- read by celebrities including Nick Cannon. Kids also can sing along to well-known tunes such as "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and play matching and other games. The site offers worksheets on topics such as arts-and-crafts activities, coloring pages, and kid-friendly recipes. Because words accompany the narration, the storybook section gives kids a fun way to practice reading skills. Each story also includes suggested reading and grade levels and lists relevant themes such as fairness and honesty.
Is it any good?
Speakboos certainly offers kids plenty to do; in addition to stories and songs, its worksheets provide dozens of activity ideas and projects. A nice variety of actors and actresses read tales (Chazz Palminteri's "Jack and the Beanstalk," anyone?), and design is colorful and accessible. The only catch: The site's free content is fairly limited. To access most of the activities and stories, you'll have to shell out a monthly fee. It offers paid monthly and annual subscriptions. Without signing up for a subscription, you can access five free stories (and the accompanying app also offers some content). Visitors also can get access to limited content by subscribing to the free Speakaboos newsletter.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the importance of reading together. Read our article "Reading Rainbow Signs Off" for more on keeping reading alive.
Is it better to visit a website to learn about reading, or should you just pick up a book? Can there be a balance between online time and offline reading? What limits should parents set on computer time?
Fairy tales can be fun to read -- but many also involve a lesson, such as treating others with respect or being honest. What did the characters in some of the stories you watched and listened to on the site learn? What can you learn from their experiences?
If you enjoyed the stories on the site, could you write your own? Families can discuss the creative process it takes to write a story, from thinking of something to write about to finishing and sharing the story.