Tag Archives: technology

The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

Standard

The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth, paperback novel, 295 pages, published by Scholastic Inc. in 2014.

Until his Grandfather’s death, Devin had always lived on their farm in an isolated valley, partially protected from the heat and dryness plaguing the world. Left alone, Devin heads for the city, which he has only ever heard stories of. There are many homeless children living off the streets of the city, and most of them have heard of a special place just for children like them. Devin, and his new friend, Kit, soon discover that this child’s paradise isn’t just myth, but it isn’t the perfect place to grow up either.

I thought this book got off to a slowish start, but it quickly evolved into a page-turner. It was an interesting story, though the subject matter was rather darker than I expected. The goings on at the home for children were really very creepy and original. And directed all by the perfect villain, the Administrator. There was nothing likeable or agreeable about the Administrator; she was downright scary and mean. An excellent character to pit the hero against!

Devin was an intelligent and brave hero. He was likeable, personable, and a little naive. And like most heroes, I had no doubt that he would somehow overcome all adversities and lead his friends to safety. His friends were great characters too.  Many of the characters in The One Safe Place were children or early teens, and it was interesting getting to know them. These kids may have come from different backgrounds, but they found themselves in the same predicament, with various reactions and methods of coping with it. I felt that all the characters were well written and expressive.

Overall, The One Safe Place was an entertaining and somewhat unsettling read that I enjoyed. It would be great for kids keen on dystopian and science fiction novels.

The One Safe Place is suitable for upper primary school through to middle high school students.

SaveSave

Guest Post: How Technology Has Changed the Way Children Discover the Joy of Reading

Standard

kidsreadingImage: Shutterstock

 

How Technology Has Changed the Way Children Discover the Joy of Reading

It doesn’t take a team of scientists to tell us that children holding tablets and iPhones before they can speak has substantially changed the way they interact with the world. The research has been done, but it’s fairly obvious that the switch from wooden blocks to a full on digital device is a force to be reckoned with.

So what has changed exactly?

Access to instant information has trained us to be satisfied when we are constantly engaged, but more importantly, entertained in every second. For new readers, this can be distracting for the learning process. It takes careful motivation and time for the development of comprehension and practical application to cross over the digital barrier and enrich new readers to pick up reading with an appetite on their own.

 

Attention Spans

The digital age has shortened the human attention span to eight seconds, and it’s had a big effect on kids too, as studies show that, on average, children from ages 6 to 12 spend an average of six hours a day in front of screens. After a while that can mean big changes to learning styles, but in this day and age, you don’t have to fight the statistics but can embrace them.

Matching your child’s interest in digital devices with reading is an excellent way to reach them on a level they will be excited about, and excitement and independence are the ways to get lifetime readers (both things your kids can achieve through reader technologies). Letting them navigate ways to read titles that interest them, allowing them access to books when it interests them, and also maintaining that they are reading at their level will build voracious readers that can’t get enough of the written word.

A couple of good things to remember about tablets however is that tuning out is as important as tuning in, so moderation and supplementation with exercise, plenty of time for play outside away from the tablet and a healthy diet with plenty of fluids are the best ways to raise healthy kids that don’t become unnaturally addicted to screen time.

 

Apps

The good news about digital reading comes down to apps. Between interactive games and e-readers, getting your kid to read on a tablet combines two things that really are better together: the latest technology and one of the oldest taught skills. Together, they improve minds, expand horizons and make for brighter futures. Here are a few apps that are likely to help out any new reader:

  • MeeGenius: Working on iOS, Android and Google Play, MeeGenius allows readers to highlight words that might need a little more time, and then go back to review them with audio, as well as providing a personalization element that will substitute the main character’s name with your child’s name. It’s a great tool for the younger set still learning how to read, and it comes free with book selection.
  • Tikatok StorySpark: As Barnes & Noble’s kid-friendly app, Tikatok StorySpark combines a lot of great elements for an app that will fully engage any new reader who also wants to take a stab at playing author. Kid’s can write and publish their own stories, using their own drawings or uploading digital backgrounds, and then they can upload their finished product to com for publication.
  • Tales2Go: This app is a winner due to its inclusion of thousands of titles that you can take wherever your tablet can go (hint the name!) and is well-beloved by parents who don’t want to pack a bunch of bedtime books for every adventure. Bookmark favorites, scroll through genres and save yourself a little library on Tales2Go—it’s ideal for the reader who can’t get enough of the favorites but also likes the option to browse.
  • A Story Before Bed: A Story Before Bed app is a great one for readers who dig the nighttime storytelling experience. It allows readers to access 300 titles and then uses a video recording to save the goodnight reading session. It’s perfect for going back to relive some of the best stories you have shared together whenever.

 

Mobile Opportunities

Busy families can benefit from the mobile opportunities that a tablet reader provides, and if you don’t want to have your kid slinging around your new iPad Air, tablet devices for kids exist for that very reason.

Try a model such as the V.Reader, which is perfect for toddlers just getting their hands on a book or two. It comes with software cartridges that let you monitor what they’re reading and provides them with plenty of interactive games. For older readers, the Amazon’s bundled e-reader includes achievement benchmarks that monitor your child’s progress and comes with access to over 250,000 titles and the ability to access e-books from their libraries. With the Amazon reader you can also download PDF books whenever you run out of options, so try international titles from around the world. Sounds like a great start, right?

It may seem as if the world is coming to an end since the tablet’s arrival, but really it’s just an opportunity for us all to evolve—something we’ve historically been very successful at. Why not do it with reading?

How has technology impacted your child’s reading? Do you have any other apps you would suggest? Share with us in the comments below!

 

About the Author: Caroline is a passionate reader and technology guru who writes for CultureCoverage.com and SecureThoughts.com. She is constantly in search of the best new book, the latest in technology and the ultimate guide on how to gracefully get out of weekend plans so she can remain at home in bed with a good read.

Web: www.culturecoverage.com
Twitter: @CultureCovC

The Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh

Standard

Q_Door_Front_FInal_Flat_SMALLThe Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh, e-book, 288 pages, published in 2015.

A large swathe of woods stands on an abandoned property behind the house where teenage brothers Felix and Brady live. When a tall chain-link fence is erected along the boundary line the boys’ interest in the woods is piqued. They try to explore the woods using Felix’s remote control quadcopter, discovering something strange among the trees. An huge metal dog with glowing red eyes and a dark-haired girl appear through a fiery portal. The boys quickly remove themselves from the woods and its strange inhabitants, only to find themselves venturing back in in the middle of the night on a rescue mission that will lead them on an interdimensional adventure.

The Quantum Door is technological science fiction. The parallel world that Brady and Felix travel to shows what could happen if Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems evolved to become self-aware. In a world where humans have died out due to some mysterious illness, AI is all that is left as a pseudo life-form. Different types of robots have different jobs and communities in this world that is so similar to Earth, some even have social structures and families. This was fascinating and terrifying. We are so reliant on technology, it is everywhere, and this scenario is a plausible outcome of developing AI, though I hope we stop before the technology gets out of hand.

The plot was fast and exciting, with a lot of action. The description of the machines was particularly vivid, and I found myself thinking about the neurogeists late at night! Creepy, horrible things! It was interesting and engaging. There were a few things I didn’t see coming too. I quite liked the story, and the characters. The giant dog, Achilles, was a lovable sidekick for Nova, who was extremely self sufficient for a girl her age. I admired her efforts to keep Brady and Felix safe. Nova also had a little robotic bird called Thorn that was a wonderful companion and help. I enjoyed picturing her fluttering about the group and helping out, such a loyal little thing. Brady, as the older brother, was responsible and worried about Felix, while Felix was much more likely to take risks and be impulsive. Brady tended to follow whatever scheme Felix had thought up, partly to watch out for him, and partly because his ideas were often fun. I liked the brothers, and their relationship with eachother. The little bot Ajax was rather annoying, but helpful in his own way.

This book was different to a lot of the books I normally read, but it was very good. I highly recommend it to fans of Sci-fi. The Quantum Door is suitable for upper primary school and high school students.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.