I recently came across a conversation on Facebook about a service that I didn’t know existed. Apparently the Toronto Public Libraries has a service ‘Dial-A-Story’.
‘Dial-A-Story is exactly what it sounds like. You call a number, enter the age of the child and choose between stories offered in 15 different languages.
I was pretty skeptical at first. Isn’t that what parents are for?
We started reading to Victoria the day she was born. Yes, I realize it wouldn’t have done much for her at the time but it got us into good habits. Nova Scotia has a great resource for new parents called Read To Me. They visit you in hospital and provide a bag of free books for your baby. They’ve recently celebrated the delivery of their 100 000th bag.
Now we read to Victoria every night as part of her bedtime routine and during the day whenever she asks. It’s been fun to watch her change her mind about what her favourite books are. For about a month she loved the Usborne That’s Not My… series, then she moved on to Each Peach Pear Plum (a personal favourite of mine) and Pat the Bunny. This week she seems to love Llama Llama Nighty Nighty and All The Hippos Go Berserk (any Sandra Boynton
is a safe bet). We have to go through the pile of books on our bedside table as she shakes her head until finally she smiles and says, ‘Ya, ya!’, which is pretty cute. I’ve started memorizing her favourites from reading them so often.
I know not all people have the time to read to their children all day every day but can’t you spare five minutes at bedtime? No? Well how about Saturday afternoon? My dad used to read to me as a kid, and later I read to him. It’s still one of my favourite memories; we read through most of the Nancy Drew series among others.
After some reflection I realized dial-a-story isn’t much different than an app that could read to your child. I also realized there are some other benefits, such as, we are trying to teach Victoria French so we could call up and have a book read to her with a better accent than my husband or I can do. Andrew also pointed out that it could be useful for foreign families whose parents may not speak the best English.
As an educational tool for furthering your child’s ability in another language I think it might be a great resource, however as a substitute for a parent absolutely not. There’s something special about your child seeing the words as you read them and pointing at the pictures that can’t be replaced.
So, would you use this tool? Would it increase the amount you read to your child, or replace it?
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