by Ben Halpert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It’s not often I find a successful fiction book that explains complicated adult ideas to children. The last one was Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure, a creative story that introduces math concepts like Pi, circumference and radius to young children. I’m not a math teacher, but I can relate that to computer concepts I teach to kindergarten and younger. As with geometry, it’s difficult to explain the concept of ‘internet safety’ to the newest users. Unlike geometry, it must be done as soon as they pick up a mouse and lock their eyes onto the glowing, scintillating screen. Every month, more and more children, younger and younger, play on websites like Jumpstart, Clifford and NickJr. They–of course–trust the adults who love them to keep them safe. Now, we have a tool to do that.
Savvy Cyberkids at Home: The Family Gets a Computer, written by Ben Halpert and illustrated by Taylor Southerland, tackles internet safety for the youngest users with rhyme, colorful pictures and appealing characters. It shares the experiences of a delightful brother and sister duo as they get their first computer and venture onto the internet (with parental supervision). The book is big enough (eight-by-ten–with a sturdy cover and heavy pages) for a mom or teacher to hold upright and show to a group as they read. The story itself is designed for pre-readers and kindergarten with simple words that keep the listener’s attention and full-sized action-packed illustrations that breathe life into the story’s stars. Together, the words and pictures introduce children to safety on the internet–privacy, protecting names–while reinforcing the benefits.
“A computer is special and can do many things
like play games or read books and play songs to sing.”
The important message of internet safety for kids is taken to the next level when kids visit the Savvy Cyberkids website, log in (a good way to reinforce what the book teaches) and create their own Savvy CyberKid name. It also offers printable coloring pages.
Overall, the eye-catching pictures, the rhymed lyrics and the important message delivered in a fun way makes this a winner for all preschools, homeschools and libraries.
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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of dozens of tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and dozens of books on how to integrate technology into education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor toTeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out next summer.