Reading habits in the 21st century have changed significantly with an exponential use of the internet. People are more dependent on hypertexts and hypermedia. Such dependency has been more visible on children who are using their (parents’) smartphones and laptops as sources of information. However, how the children grasp knowledge and the sources of information is still a critical issue as children are more susceptible to digital addiction with explicit usage of their gadgets.
Nepal is currently on lockdown, during which children are prone to fall more into such digital addiction. So it might be necessary for parents to monitor their children’s usage of the internet. Nonetheless, parents can surely guide their children to use the internet productively. And, a few good habits they can bestow upon their children are reading books and learning reading skills on the internet.
There are multiple national and international websites that have been providing reading materials for free or at a minimum charge. A few websites which would charge the users otherwise have announced free access to their contents since the novel coronavirus outbreak haunted the world. The contents available are ebooks, multimedia, audiobooks and so on.
Here, we have for you a list of such platforms for you to make your children engaged in productivity and developing their cognition during the lockdown.
OLE Nepal’s E-Pustakalaya
A project since 2008, E-Pustakalaya is an education-focused freely accessible digital library containing around 7,000 full-text documents, books, videos, audios and other forms of multimedia in various native languages as well as in English. With a user-friendly layout, the digital library is easy to browse.
Moreover, one of its webpage, EGR, is focused on the learning of primary level children through video and texts, while the other webpage, Bal Paathmala contains children’s books at three levels. Furthermore, its E-Paath platform provides digital learning materials according to the grades of the children and one can choose through multiple choices of subjects. The only drawback of E-Pustakalaya is that you cannot switch from one of the webpages mentioned above to another.
The E-Pustakalaya and E-Paath are products of Open Learning Exchange, an NGO that once adopted the government’s ambitious project One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) for its successful implementation.
Ministry of Education’s CDC Library
The contents of the Curriculum Development Centre’s library are more curriculum-focused and they provide textbooks, curricula, teachers’ guides, children’s resources and journals in multiple languages. Moreover, they contain videos of online classes of various subjects of multiple grades.
But the major problem with the website is its design. The website is not designed in a user-friendly manner as these contents need to be browsed through multiple clicks and some of the contents are unavailable to access. Nevertheless, the contents of the website are adequate and will be resourceful for children.
Kullabs provides notes, study materials, academic contents, videos and other multimedia items for middle school, high school, and college students. A project launched in 2012 by Kul Techno Lab and Research Centre, the website is a digital platform for both teachers and students. It provides free contents for learning online.
British Council’s Digital Library in Nepal
British Council’s Digital Library is not for children but for the Nepali nationals 18 years and above. Taking membership in the digital library provides you access to magazines or newspapers from across the globe and multimedia materials such as documentaries and full-length concerts. Moreover, various comics and graphic novels, ebooks, audiobooks and academic books, and online resources for learning English can be explored in the library. The membership for the library must be applied. Those who can become members now can enjoy the facilities free of charges until March 31, 2021.
International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL)
The ICDL’s childrenslibrary.org provides a large collection of children’s literature for free in multiple languages (unfortunately, not in Nepali though). The ICDL Foundation is a non-profit organisation, and the website launched in 2002 consists of 4,619 books in 59 languages.
Project Gutenberg contains over 60,000 free ebooks, mostly older literary works published before 1924, for children as well as adults. With registrations required, every book in its catalogue is provided without cost to the readers. Thus, it is a great platform to download classic literature materials such as the works of William Shakespeare or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.
Audible, a product of Amazon, contains audiobooks of various genres. The audiobooks, however, are not freely accessible. Nonetheless, as the schools are closed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, it has let streaming of children’s literature in audiobooks for free through desktop, mobile and apps without any registration or fees.
Khan Academy is an America-based nonprofit organisation which provides different online courses, supplementary exercises and materials for educators on a variety of subjects for free through its websites and apps. Most of the lessons it provides are in the form of short videos on YouTube. Established by an American educator Salman Khan (not to be confused with the Bollywood actor of the same name), the website features the videos that cover a range of subjects taught in schools and all grades from kindergarten to high school. Its app, Khan Academy Kids, is designed for children aged two to six in order to develop their basic skills before admission to a school.