August 22, 2014

Ebook Toolkit: SLJ Reviews StarWalk Kids

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Launched in October 2012, StarWalk Kids currently offers 150 gorgeously designed pre-K through grade 8 ebooks from about 60 authors in its growing collection, which is expected to swell to 400 titles by the end of the 2012–2013 school year, according to Liz Nealon, cofounder of the product’s parent StarWalk Kids Media.

Tightly curated for exceptional quality, the collection is about 60 percent highly illustrated nonfiction, and all titles are simultaneous-access licensed, making a subscription to StarWalk Kids a solid way to support Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for reading and writing. Each title includes vetted links to author and illustrator information, plus a “Teaching Links” PDF that lists the related CC standards, with ideas for extending learning through supplemental classroom activities.

StarWalk ebooks are basically device agnostic and can be enjoyed using virtually any device with a Flash-enabled Web browser to display the excellent, proprietary StarWalk Reader. IPad users will also soon be able to stream StarWalk Kids titles via an HTML 5-based app currently awaiting Apple approval. Users can have titles read to them by professional narrators, with or without text highlighting, or they can read selections themselves.

Teachers will appreciate the simple yet robust toolkit built into the StarWalk Reader, which includes the ability to highlight, add notes, zoom in or out, and jump to a page by either entering a page number or mousing over the bottom of the screen to reveal page thumbnails and selecting any of them. Educators and parents can also use StarWalk’s advanced search feature to browse the collection by Lexile level, alphabetic reading level, CC standards, and other criteria.

Whether its ebook titles were initially published in print or are digital originals, StarWalk Kids is meticulous about design and offers only fixed-format ebooks to preserve their visual integrity. While they’re perfect for viewing on interactive whiteboards, computers, and full-size tablets, the obvious trade-off for that visual consistency is that StarWalk Kids titles aren’t as easily viewed on smaller devices like smartphones as reflowable text ebooks would be.

It’s also worth noting that non-subscribers can buy many StarWalk Kids titles à la carte to enjoy on Kindle Fire and Nook tablet models.

For more information about StarWalk Kids and to sign up for a free trial, visit www.StarWalkKids.com.

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Jeff Hastings About Jeff Hastings

Jeff Hastings (hastingj@howellschools.com) is a library media specialist at Highlander Way Middle School in Howell, MI.

Comments

  1. I’m completely thrilled by your positive review!

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