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Education Books Media

Learning To Read With Click and Jane 115

theodp writes "While earlier generations learned to Read with Dick and Jane, the NYT Magazine reports that today's tykes are getting their reading chops at online sites like Starfall (free) and One More Story (subscription). Quoting the Times Magazine: 'In their book "Freakonomics," Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt write that kids who grow up in houses packed with books fare better on school tests than those who grow up with fewer books.' So how will kids who learn to read online fare when they grow up?"
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Learning To Read With Click and Jane

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  • Aye tink day will bee find.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by code4fun ( 739014 )

      Aye tink day will bee find.

      close enough

  • It's true. (Score:3, Funny)

    by palegray.net ( 1195047 ) <philip.paradis@p ... net minus author> on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:00PM (#26680099) Homepage Journal
    Hooked on Slashdot worked for me.
    • Me too! I learned such things as:

      • Microsoft is teh evil!
      • Steve Jobs is God in a black turtleneck.
      • It takes a very long time for BSD to die.
      • Never have sex with goats. It hurts.
      • Every year is the Year of Linux on the Desktop.
      • Red title == First Post!
      • Everything happens to you in Soviet Russia
      • Something magical happens when you have both hot grits in your undershorts and Natalie Portman naked and petrified.
  • internet speak? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by overcaffein8d ( 1101951 ) <d DOT cohen09 AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:01PM (#26680103) Homepage Journal


    This will be how kids speak if they learn to read only with the internet.

    then again, some people already do.

    • Re:internet speak? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:06PM (#26680133)

      Don't forget that it's a big internet. If we're lucky the kids will find their way to Project Gutenberg.

      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        Don't be such an elitist, in our global economy, today's youth will have to outcompete the chinese in goatse related careers as well...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Korin43 ( 881732 )
      I learned how to type and spell because of playing video games. That was MUDs though. I sometimes wonder how things will be different with newer games. It seems like people will still need to learn to type fairly quickly to play a game like WoW (at least if they want to be in a group), but it's not like a MUD where you have to spell everything perfectly because you're talking to a computer.
      • I learned to type in school. Typing class with Underwood manual typewriters, where I was the only boy in the class. However, I never really learned to type the numbers very well. I could (and still can) out-type most secretaries, but numbers were something that I was never good at.

        Until I got my Commodore 64.

        Then I started typing in programs out of Compute! magazine, with their MLX program, and learned to type the numbers. To this day, I never use the number pad on the side of a keyboard. I always use

  • Dick & Jane (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:05PM (#26680125)
    I learned a lot of things by watching videos on Dick & Jane's paysite.
  • Yo Editors. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Creepy Crawler ( 680178 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:06PM (#26680135)
  • Please install the Flash Player Plugin or



    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I'd say this whole article is made of FAIL.

      Bad links. Bad sites. IM SP33K. And if you search for "Dick and Jane"..

      Not cool.

    • Quick question, have you actually visited the starfall site???

      I'm afraid to say that it looks like a dogs dinner to me. Chances are it probably works as well as it looks.

      Like most stuff that sticks to the "html than thou" attitude it comes across as a rotten 90s throwback. Definitely unfit for consumption.

      If you actually ever have anything to do with educational software in any way shape or form (as I do) then you might find out that this is just another example of why Flash is king, like it or not.

      • My kids love Starfall. They read with me, they read by themselves, they read everywhere, but they also love to go to Starfall and play with it. The younger one (4 years old) gets reinforcement (whe knows them all now) with letter and sounds (that's level 1 on the screen) and is playing with level 2. The older one (6 years old) has pretty much outgrown it, but it was good in helping her.

        The fact that it's flash means that it's interactive. The fact that it looks like a dog's breakfast means that kids are

        • Point taken matey.

          I wasn't having a go at the fact that the sites design was childish - it just looked very dated and i couldn't see any evidence they used recent web technologies.

          The link you included indicates that actually they use flash in their activities so my initial judgment was off.

    • by BeerCat ( 685972 )

      completely off topic (or is it*)

      love the sig.

      *The on-topic bit: knowledge of how things should stay put or move can be garnered by experience or reading about other people's experiences.
      Or, put more simply - "learn more by doing, or by reading (whichever is quicker)"

  • by do_kev ( 1086225 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:10PM (#26680161)
    Correlation is not causation. Presumably, it is not the mere presence of the books, shooting off their "bookly cosmic rays," that is the causal force which leads to children doing better on tests. Rather, there are two presumable possibilities, both of which probably work concurrently:

    1. The kind of parents who own a lot of books are generally of above-average intelligence, and hence produce offspring that are as well.

    2. The kind of parents who own a lot of books are likely to either read books to their children, encourage their children to read themselves.

    The medium through with the information is conveyed likely matters very little, if at all, and so long as the children receive adequate instruction on how to access materials to read, and encouragement to actually do so, they will fare just fine.
    • by SDuane ( 90331 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:20PM (#26680235)

      Your points 1 & 2 are precisely the same conclusion drawn by Dubner and Levitt in Freakonomics. They make it in reference to a program the city of Chicago enacted to send books to kids in hopes that they would get smarter by osmosis or something. You'd think by the off-handed way the Freakonomics reference was made that the submitter would've recognized that. I guess reading the allusory material is about as highly regarded as reading the original article around here...

      • by BeerCat ( 685972 )

        Your points 1 & 2 are precisely the same conclusion drawn by Dubner and Levitt in Freakonomics. They make it in reference to a program the city of Chicago enacted to send books to kids in hopes that they would get smarter by osmosis or something.

        And yet sometimes it might just work - my wife is still astounded by her own mother looking at our bookshelves and commenting "have you read all them?"
        Clearly, she became a voracious reader in spite of, rather than because of, points 1, 2 & your comment above

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gorobei ( 127755 )

      Agreed, though I'd add:

      3. Kids emulate their parents, so if the parents read a lot, the kids will tend too, as well.

      My kids are 4 and 6, and I pretty much let them do whatever they want media-wise (no X rated, but otherwise, fine.) They mostly make choices we parents approve of.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I grew up in a house full of books. I will say my parents were above average, but not by that much. My dad worked in a mill, my mom was a housewife. They had high school educations.

      At some point dad's younger co-workers asked what he did to encourage his kids to read -- "When they picked up a book, I didn't bat it out of their hands." That's fairly accurate. Dad and mom were pretty normal TV-watching suburbanites, but they also liked to read. Newspapers, novels, sci-fi, magazines, history -- it wasn't somet

  • Freakonomics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:10PM (#26680165)

    It's not the books that cause the kids to do better. It's the fact that type types of parents who stock their houses with books are those who will produce better children. In other words, the books don't cause the good output, they simply reflect the environment that causes the good output. Thus whether one learns to read via books or computers isn't important; it's mainly what the parents do.

  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:14PM (#26680191) Journal

    For one, even shorter attention spans than today ...

    Second, they'll want to see a [citation needed], and if it's not on the net, they'll refuse to believe it exists.

    Third, since they won't be "into dead tree newspapers", expect to see a rise in the number of people who bring their laptops into the john with them ... and also expect to hear more of "the sound of one hand clapping" ...

    Fourth, most "science projects" will degenerate into "does it blend"?

    Fifth, teachers will have to accept "a virus ate my homework" since they'll be saying "a virus ate your final mark" much of the time.

    • 1. What? Sorry, wasn't paying attention. Not much I can say about this one.

      2. This is actually a good thing, it may teach them to be critical of the world. There is plenty of bias, and tons of new age junk science out there.

      3. Dead trees? That's what they are. While they still have value, online news sources have reader comments, better retractions, and the ability to research the topic immediately.

      4. Science projects have already devolved into this. At least when I did mine, our class was not allo
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by macshit ( 157376 )

      Of course on the positive side, kids will become incredibly skilled at making animated powerpoint presentations with dancing chipmunks and disco soundtracks, to cover up their ignorance.

      They should make ceo in no time with skills like that!

    • That phrase bothers me.

      I know there's a lot of flotsam in the threads, but "citation needed" comes out really arrogant because either he's right and Mr. Citation won't admit it, or he's wrong and Mr. C. won't bother to post the counter example. It's "I'm not even going to bother to read your post at all" - the internet version of "Talk to the Hand".

      Your average poster with solid karma is likely to be at least half right, but botching a detail. Anwswer the thread instead.

      • I tend to use it strictly literally. That is:

        You might have a good point, but I have sufficient doubt that I won't take it on faith without numbers to back it up. Either I'm too lazy, or I can't find that information. Either provide sufficient evidence to convince me, or we'll have to agree to disagree.

        I think "citation needed" is a lot more succinct than all of that, and I think it's useful to know which of our ideas are based in actual fact, and which are merely speculation we've repeated until we believe

  • Incredibly well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:16PM (#26680201) Journal

    Children who grow up with the web should read incredibly well. The web is a massive library and without being able to read you won't be able to do much in internet and computer land. It solves a huge problem for parents and that problem is getting children interested in reading in the first place.

    That said, a child growing up on the internet will be exposed to improper punctuation and grammar more frequently than a child growing up reading proofread and edited printed materials. That is probably a good thing. Those children will be less pedantic, and have less difficulty discerning intent and meaning from written text.

    This is no different than the gamer generation versus their parents. The problem was not merely that the parents had difficulty with electronic interfaces, the problem was they had difficulty adapting to varied interfaces. The gamer generation can hope between operating systems, not to mention individual applications for the same purpose without too much difficulty. Their parents could learn and master an OS or application but when confronted with something different had/have a great deal of difficulty.

    Why? Because every console video game has a unique and non-standard interface. Instead of learning the interfaces themselves, gamers learn the common elements that need to be and should be present in all video game interfaces. When they pick up a new game they don't stare at the foreign interface confused they start by figuring out how to navigate and then immediately proceed to look for the elements they know should be there and take note of extras found along the way.

    That difference in how a new (insert almost anything here) is viewed while minor gives amazing flexibility when presented with tasks and arguably is the difference between genius and ignorance.

    • I'd like to share your optimism; but seeing the rise and spread of video into previously textual areas of the internet makes me wonder. Now, I'm not saying "OMG interwebs video is bad, back in my day we had gopher, and by god we liked it!". In many applications, video is entirely appropriate. However, I've been unpleasantly surprised by the number of areas where video is worse than text; but it has proliferated anyway, presumably because it is considered easier to make or easier to "consume".

      Oh! Look! A t
      • I'm not worried. Video isn't a bad or evil thing. Video doesn't rot brains. And good luck getting to interesting video content on the web without being able to read.

        Load google, okay maybe you know the big blue e and google is the default page or you have firefox with a handy lil bar in the corner. Next.... ooops can't google without knowing how to read and write.

        Well what about youtube? You'll need to know how to spell youtube to start with. Then you'll need to be able to read the categories and understand

    • That's very insightful. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    • by BeerCat ( 685972 )

      a child growing up on the internet will be exposed to improper punctuation and grammar more frequently than a child growing up reading proofread and edited printed materials. That is probably a good thing.

      You think? I h8 txt spk*

      *gt of mI lwn

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bodrius ( 191265 )

      I'm not so sure.

      While I have little doubt that children growing on the web will be able to read very well in the most literal sense, I'm not so sure they will be 'literate' as we know that term.

      The web provides invaluable access to information - it is accessible, global, searchable and 'to the point'. It may encourage a type of learning that is less narrative than we've historically used, and more... staccato, for lack of a better term. You can jump from fact to fact without necessarily going through a lot

  • by BanachSpaceCadet ( 1464109 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:18PM (#26680215)
    OK, the whole point in the chapter in 'Freakonomics' was that while the number of books in a child's home IS CORRELATED with how well they do on school tests, IT IS NOT A CAUSAL RELATIONSHIP. Essentially, families that put an emphasis on learning tend to have both smart kids and a lot of books, but simply having a lot of books around does not appear to make children smarter. The person who quoted 'Freakonomics' in this article either intentionally misrepresented the point, or (more likely) completely missed the point. The point was that we should quit spreading the exact fallacy that is being spread here.
    • By the way, here's the link: http://rapidshare.com/files/86824084/freakonomics.pdf [rapidshare.com]

      Now YOU can read it to see if the article is right.

    • The person who quoted 'Freakonomics' in this article either intentionally misrepresented the point, or (more likely) completely missed the point. The point was that we should quit spreading the exact fallacy that is being spread here.

      Clearly his parents didn't stock the house with enough books.

    • by dotlin ( 532442 )

      ...either intentionally misrepresented the point, or (more likely) completely missed the point.

      or the article author is another victim of a slashdot editor mangling a submission to increase the controversy quotient.

  • Corelation etc etc (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) * on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:18PM (#26680219)
    kids who grow up in houses packed with books fare better on school tests than those who grow up with fewer books

    Hmm, that's a strange way to put it. Yes that statement is probably true, but it doesn't necessarily follow that if you pack any kid's house with books they would do better at school tests. I think it's more likely that parents who tend to read a lot, and therefore happen to have a lot of books in their house, also tend to place higher value on learning and knowledge in general and then pass on that inclination to their kids. It would be more useful to say that kids whose parents read a lot tend to do better on school tests than those whose parents read less.
    • by eherot ( 107342 )
      I agree. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it isn't the books themselves that cause the kids to do better in school. Instead it's being in a household where knowledge and learning are valued. Until the Internet came along, the number of books in one's home was probably the best way to measure the amount of reading that went on in that house.
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      When I was growing up we had a saying: We buy him books and we buy him more books and all he does is eat the covers.

  • 7h3y \/\/1ll B 1337 r33d3rz b4 7h0z3 BuX l4/\/\3rz!!!

    ur so ossum! lol! bff! ;-) txt me 2C wassup!

    • by mkiwi ( 585287 )

      ur so ossum! lol! bff! ;-) txt me 2C wassup!

      Ah, you show your age! The kids these days all use this: XD. Look in any youtube comment section.

      ...although I do consider it a bastardization of the insane genius that was lolspeak.

  • by spiffmastercow ( 1001386 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:44PM (#26680367)
    I learned to read playing Dragon Warrior on NES. For years the teachers would tell me not to use "thee" and "thou".
  • online literacy (Score:1, Interesting)

    by HaynieMatt ( 755882 )
    These days I believe being able to use a computer is nearly as important as knowing how to read. I believe a combination of books and online tools is the best. My kids would sit and listen to me read to them all day if I were up to it so I'm glad there are sites like Starfall that give them additional interaction.
    • I'll go further.

      It's a dead heat between ReadWrite, Math, and CompSci. A perfect tripod.

      We wail and moan the lack of computer skills, and if you don't learn early how the computerized age mindset works at a gut level, it's basically like a lost language. Unless they wake up and study like demons later say in college, such as my exact generational strata, the minute they graduate without comp skills they get hosed applying for a job.

  • by bederson ( 471644 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:55PM (#26680439) Homepage

    Or, a really good source of free children's books is the International Children's Digital Library (www.childrenslibrary.org). It has thousands of free (current and public domain) books from around the world, many of them available in multiple languages.

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @07:23PM (#26680601) Homepage Journal

    So how will kids who learn to read online fare when they grow up?

    They'll probably post half baked, inaccurate stories with misleading summaries to forum based websites.

  • ... but my son learned to count through a video game. When he was four or so he used to sit on my lap and watch me play an on Mac game called "Scruffy" (or was it Scruffy versus the Martians?), which featured a little dog who jumped about, avoided worms and Martians, and dropped bombs behind him. At the start of every level "Welcome to level nn" was displayed in big letters on the screen, and my son quickly learned to recognise the numerals.

    Fortunately for me and my (lack of) game playing skills, he lear

  • by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @08:12PM (#26680849) Homepage
    ...the techs call this babysitware. it has nothing to do with education and everything to do with a teachers union who demands teachers "need a break". couple this with computer lab aides who get paid under 10 bucks an hour and aren't technically allowed to teach anything.
  • Reading online isn't really going to make a difference in a child's learning. As many other posters have noted, the question isn't online vs books, its whether parents encourage their children to learn.

    To those who moan about "they'll all learn chat-speak", I would say it depends on what a child reads online. Some sites have more value in them then others, and a good parent should try to direct their child's interest towards the more valuable ones. However, when you think about it, doesn't the same thing

  • I'm sold ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by starfall_dad ( 1466217 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @09:27PM (#26681225)
    I have a 2.5 year old son. About 6-8 months ago, I sat him on my lap and I clicked through the ABCs of starfall every night. He would point to letters, laugh at cut scenes, and basically bond with me. I let him put his hand on mine as I navigated the site. Then I started letting him click the mouse to advance the letters and games. I would point to the mouse cursor as it moved across the screen with his hand on my hand as I moved the mouse. He made the connection and started taking over the mouse. His gross motor skills frustrated him when trying to do some of the finer details of the website, but that improved to the point where he could handle the website. Part of the site has a concentration-esque game of flipping over tiles and matching them. Well, my wife and I were in the bedroom watching TV with him in the same room as he was surfing Starfall. We look up to see what he is doing and he had accessed the game already matched two tiles. Flabbergasted. I watched him do it, and it was all random. Then, he started remembered the letters and would return to the correct tile when he saw it again. The progress he has made has blown my mind. He reads his letters and numbers. He has been on parts of Starfall I didn't know existed or how to get to! Also, every night I review the letters and numbers with him using ToddlerLock on my G1. He looks forward to it and scoots over in his toddler sized bad for me. I have to fold myself in half to position next to him. Good times. And my 9 month daughter is already taking an interest in the G1. I had to extract it from her mouth today, turn it off, and let the drool dry out! Ahhh, I love my kids.
    • by Ratface ( 21117 )

      I can relate to this. My boy is around the same age and is just starting to learn to use the computer and interact with learning games. Using the computer with him on good quality educational sites is great fun but it is only a part of the bonding and learning we do. He already has around a hundred books and bedtime wouldn't be complete without reading a selection. He also loves playing with the games on my phone and even with simple things like Arkanoid on the DS - again he can't actually play them which c

  • Bad idea (Score:3, Funny)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:02PM (#26681645)
    We're raising a generation who will base their life philosophies on bad car analogies.
  • It matters not one bit whether they learn to read on my lap in front of a physical book, or on my lap in front of a computer screen. The important thing is that I'm there teaching them how to expand their knowledge. After they've learned how to read, I think it's extremely important that they learn how to use computing and the internet to keep expanding their knowledge. If I can give them a computing environment to explore and learn to exploit, you bet I will. They will need that skill as an adult.
  • A generation taught to read online will be very rarely exposed to the kind of polished prose that can teach you both style and clear thinking. Almost any book ever published has been first rewritten by its author once or a dozen times and then vetted by an editor for spelling, grammar, style, structure and contents. Just about everything on the net is first draft - this present post included.
    So it is not just the atrocious apostrophes, the equally asses, the complementary compliments and their brethren that

  • My 3.5 year old now has better skills than many adults I've seen. Lat year, we set up his on account, with large icons, slow double-click speed, single-button mouse, etc. Very kid-friendly. Poissonrouge.com did the rest. My kid now has a password to get into his account (his name) he surfs YouTube for cartoons, and had developed great fine motor skills using the mouse. While he hasn't learned to read much yet, he has developed problem solving skills and counting skills. I am totally comfortable with h
  • I thought the entire point of that section of Freakonomics was not that kids with lots of books scored well on tests (which was proven wrong when governments stepped in and offered free books) - but that

    1) Kids who do well on tests are usually smart kids.

    2) Kids are smart usually because their parents are smart.

    3) Smart parents generally have more books in their home anyway.

    The entire point of the article was that correlation doesn't imply causation. What this means is that even if kids learn to read from

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."