ReadAskChat – A New Look at Facilitating Comprehension

ReadAskChat is a subscription-based digital library service for families of young children. This exceedingly well thought-out and enjoyable app facilitates language and conversational volleys by providing parents and caregivers ways to expand descriptive detail within a story. In addition, there are songs with finger plays and movements that promote imitation which is one of the earliest forms of learning. There are several categories of stories from animals in their natural habitat to fun and playful stories with adorable characters. Downloading a story or category will get you immediate access. Often in children’s books, the stories are too lengthy and complex for young children, but the stories in ReadAskChat are short and perfect for the intended audience’s attention span.

ReadAskChat recognizes that parents or others close to a child is that child’s first teacher. We all know by now the benefits of reading to every child at any age. Having a story read aloud transports one through both time and space and helps develop the views of the world around us through taking on another’s perspective or persona. This interactivity between the child, the reader, and the story itself is at the core of learning and builds both confidence and competencies with early learners.

The goal of ReadAskChat is to promote joint or shared attention between an adult or older sibling and a young child in order to engage and teach. Joint attention is the sharing of experience which makes up some of the earliest learning memories of a child. And how does ReadAskChat go about accomplishing this? By providing prompts for dialogic reading experiences, parents can enhance learning across all domains in development for their children – cognitive, language, social, motor, and adaptive to name a few by making the reading experience directly applicable to their everyday routines. Every book (READ) within their library has simple note cards with questions (ASK) in accordance with developmental levels. There are 3 levels of suggested interactions and activities to accompany a story (CHAT). The suggestions begin with a child who is developmentally very young (under 2 including Babies) and proceeds to Toddlers and Preschoolers.

The ASK and CHAT prompt an increase in complexity by having a child attend to more detail and begin to make inferences regarding the particular page or storyline. The questions foster awareness and while playing with this app, I was continually astounded and impressed by the insight of the developers. Each book promotes “active thinking and deep engagement” by providing “meaningful content and social interaction”. The Ask questions and suggested activities are beneficial for not only home use but also in a clinic or school setting. On using this app in a clinical setting, I experienced many WOW moments. I look forward to using this app when working with children and their families to showcase how to READ with a child. ReadAskChat contains many GREAT insights and ideas to reinforce both the sharing of experience and to extend vocabulary across other domains of development.

The artwork is original and changes with each story. Parents and Caregivers can relax and spend as much time on a page as needed by a child through monitoring their reactions and curiosity. ReadAskChat is a valuable tool for young children developed by years of experience and observation by the co-founders, Alice Letvin and Carolyn Saper. Their efforts, along with a host of experts in the field of early child development, have given the gift of the love of learning that will last a lifetime. And to think it is as easy as starting with just one book. This is an essential app for all families, libraries, and schools. For more information about this amazing app, check out their website. The information on the site is extensive and backed by years of research and direct experience with children.

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