For this post, I have decided to give a general review of the website myonlinereading.com, instead of focusing on a specific book like I usually do. Mostly this is because all the books on this site are very, very short, and I always feel a little silly writing a synopsis that is longer than the book itself. I believe this is an Australian website, and it has lots of books to choose from. There isn’t much information on the site about who wrote the books or made the site, it’s pretty much just the books. They are organized into a bunch of different categories, like people, creatures, mysteries, and disasters.
Alright, first let’s talk about what I liked about this website and its books. First of all, it’s free. There is no membership or login, there are no annoying ads or confusing buttons to click that lead you away from the site. You just choose a category, click on a book, and read it. There are silly stories and ones that are more informational, and it’s easy to differentiate between them from style of the illustrations and the title.
As I said before, these stories are all very, very short, so I recommend this site for kids who are on the cusp of becoming independent readers. During this past school year, I volunteered at my daughter’s first grade class once a week. Often I would spend the whole 2 hours just listening to kids read. One little boy was a native spanish speaker, and he made good progress throughout the year, but everything was just a little bit more difficult for him. When I read with him, he had a very predictable cycle- first he would read diligently, sounding out unfamiliar words and noticing how the text related to the pictures. Then he would start taking long pauses between sentences, looking around the room and up at the ceiling. Then he would pause between words, guessing what they were instead of sounding them out. Finally, he would stop altogether and put his head on the desk. Finished. Sometimes, even a 10 page simple book was too much for this kid, especially if it was boring. He needed short, light stories, and he needed lots of them so he could gain vocabulary and recognize it in a variety of contexts. No parent wants to spend money on these types of books, because they are only useful for a very short window. And it is a pain to lug tons and tons of them back and forth from the library. These ones are free, and they don’t clutter your house.
Now for what I don’t care for. These aren’t high quality stories. Lots of them end abruptly and almost none of them have any kind of moral. Some of them even rub me a little wrong, like the one about the mom who laughs so loudly that her daughter’s friend gets embarrassed and leaves and the mom just laughs harder. The nonfiction ones are so condensed that you only get a couple of factoids and then it’s over. The illustrations are very generic, although they are bright, and they help the story move along. Basically, if you’re looking for great literature, this is not the place to go.
Lastly, there are a couple of things that are neither bad nor good, just a little unique. It’s an Australian site, so occasionally there are issues with word usage and spelling in the stories. I like that kind of thing as long as I’m reading with my kids, because it’s an opportunity for a cultural discussion. The other thing is that some of the stories, particularly in the ‘disasters’ category, are kind of bizarre. There is one on the Hindenburg and one on Agent Orange, for example. You may like that, you may not. Go check it out, see if it would be helpful for your early reader.