The TES is reporting that children will need to read regularly to a digital pet dragon if they want to keep it alive. Could this Danish app be a solution for reluctant readers?
Aimed at readers between the ages of 5 and 10, the app is called Maneno and it starts with the story of a mother dragon that has to abandon her nest of eggs while she is fighting evil forces. Children are asked to adopt an egg and read to it for at least 15 minutes a day to help it to hatch and grow into an adult dragon.
Users then have a selection of texts to choose from at each reading level and the more they read the more life they breathe into their dragon. Currently, there are only Danish texts available, but the company is in talks with a UK publisher about incorporating English texts, should it get a UK release.
“We try to tap into the emotions of children,” says Normann-Ekegren. “The baby dragon will automatically become bigger and wiser as the children read more.”
Children are awarded points according to the number of minutes they read and whether they are reading at a level appropriate to their ability. They can also compare their performance in league tables based on the amount of effort they put in, and make friends with other readers using a built-in social media platform, where they can show off their dragons and exchange book recommendations.
And, for pupils with learning needs such as dyslexia, there are options to add coloured overlays to texts and to hear words read aloud.
However, Normann-Ekegren is confident that the app has potential to make a difference for pupils that struggle the most. “Schools are becoming more digital all the time. I have noticed that there seems to be lots of new technology for teaching about maths, but not for supporting reading. There’s no reason why that should be the case,” he says.
Whilst I would love for my partner’s 7-yr-old to pick up one of her many books and read in the evening, reality is that she would rather play minecraft on her ipad (not that we let her!). Whilst she is quite happy to read, she does need an incentive to do so and I think this app might just do that. I’m all for giving it a go! ~ Sophie
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