Exams are over and the school holidays are almost upon us! Which means I am once again trying to keep half a step ahead of boredom and mischief among the Pilgrim brood.
Thankfully, there are few places more trustworthy than our neighbourhood library. I’ve raved about Singapore’s library system and its treasures elsewhere on this blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that besides the books (which already offer rich pickings), NLB also carries DVDs.
I’m not sure how they determine what titles to offer – you won’t find Hollywood blockbusters or primetime TV series – but there are award-winning documentaries, instructional videos, educational CD-ROMs and the occasional classic movie.
This week Pilgrim Dad and I borrowed and watched To Kill A Mockingbird, the 1962 film adaptation of the book, that won Gregory Peck an Academy award for Best Actor. And for the kids, we’ve found the Popular Mechanics for Kids and Bill Nye the Science Guy series delightful.
I can imagine few better uses for my tax dollar!
Please stop everything you’re doing and go over to Storyline Online. It came up in one of my feeds today and after reading a few of the raves, I had to go over and check it out for myself.
The concept is similar to Tumblebooks (another website which I raved about in an earlier post) – children’s books read aloud online. But in the case of Storyline Online, the reading is done by established screen actors like Sean Astin and Elijah Wood (from the “Lord of the Rings” movies), Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing”), Jane Kaczmarek (“Malcolm in the Middle”), and even Al Gore.
Nothing like being read to, and I was completely captivated.
The stories comes with suggested activities and a downloadable activity guide, and some also have reader’s theatre versions.
Please check it out. It’s just wonderful.
The boys got their own library cards today. And Athos is absolutely thrilled because he can now bring home a ton of books. At least, that’s what it felt like carrying them home just now….
And here, I must pause once again to pay homage to the National Library Board. The whole process of applying and receiving each card took me 3 minutes tops, and the only physical document required was my IC. I was so impressed I walked to the counter just to tell the librarian-in-charge what a terrific service they had. The best part was, the cards came free! So easy, so fuss-free, and the Singaporean in me shouts hurray!
NLB’s Tumblebooks was a big hit with Athos and Porthos! We spent a good half hour at the e-library this morning. After showing them the three books I’d flagged, we listened to some others, including Can I Have A Stegosaurus, Mom? and Can I Have A Tyrannosaurus Rex, Dad? (Athos is really into dinosaurs right now.) The site allows for manual advance for faster readers who do not want to be read to, and going backwards too.
I’m so excited about my latest discovery – the National Library Board’s eBooks service. I was thoroughly absorbed by the kids’ collection, called Tumblebooks Library. You’ll need to register as a member (free, and the Singaporean in me says Hurray!) Then scroll down to Tumblebooks and start browsing.
Some are pdf versions of books for reading online, including classics like Alice in Wonderland, Little Women and the Wizard of Oz. Others are audio books.
And then there is the best category of them all – picture books with audio and animated visuals. I randomly listened to/watched three – Little Pea, The Dot and The Fire Station – unqualified fun! It’s been a long time since I’ve been read to, and I felt like a happy child.
The reading is expressive, American-accented (Tumblebooks looks like a Canadian outfit), and the images appear to be animated versions of the actual book illustrations. Best part for the beginning reader: the sentence being read lights up, karaoke-style.
No substitute for parents reading to their kids of course, nor the range of a physical library. But on a rainy (or hazy!) day, I can imagine how this service might be a great babysitter. And it’s one way for parents to check out the books before deciding whether to borrow/buy them. I heartily recommend this. Can’t wait to show this to Athos and Porthos tomorrow.