Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Big Universe - Review

Reading has always been an escape for me.  Ever since I can remember, I've loved to read anything I can get my hands on.  In particular, I remember reading the Babysitters Club series when I was in elementary and middle school.  I just could not wait to see what happened next and I read the entire series of over a 100 books and then moved on from there to other series throughout the years.

I hope to instill that same love of reading into my son.  Of course, his Daddy hopes that he's going to be an NFL or NBA star someday but I'd love it if he was a bookworm like his Mommy.  And, why can't he be both, right?  I've been reading to Ben since he was an infant.  Now, he's 2 1/2 and loves story time.  We're always looking for new books to read and new ways to hold his interest in reading.  Enter, Big Universe!

Big Universe is a site where you can read, create and share books online.  What an amazing site this is!  Ben and I had a blast checking it out!  There are hundreds of books by well known authors and publishers that are available to read online anytime.  You can sort them by grade level, reading level, age, category and even language.  Of course, you can also search by keyword, title or author as well.  From there you can read the entire book online.  These are not just previews - it's the entire book!  If you find a favorite you can add it to your own personal bookshelf to find it again quickly in the future.  You can also rate books and recommend them to others. 

We had a wonderful time finding new books to check out.  Some of these titles are well known award winners, others are hidden gems that I'm so happy to have found!  One of our new favorites is The Tree by Dana Lyons.  The book is absolutely gorgeous to look at and the story is powerful.  Ben also liked When Pigs Fly by Valerie Coulman.  That one made him laugh at the silly pictures.  There are so many more that we want to check out. 

We also used Big Universe at bedtime.   We usually read a story each night but, like any 2 year old, Ben likes to hear the same stories over and over and over again.  I found that if I bring the laptop in at bedtime he's more likely to pick a new story from Big Universe to read thus saving my sanity!  I think I'll go nuts if I have to read I Love Trains one more time.  He sits in my lap and we put the laptop on the bed and read a story that way. 

The other amazing feature of Big Universe is that you can write your own story!  Ben's a little too young to really be interested in this feature yet but we did look around at a lot of user authored stories.  There are great tutorials that walk you through the whole process and it looks really easy to do.  Once you have your story, you can share it for the world to see.  We laughed a lot at some of the creative stories kids have come up with.  For example, what would happen if aliens had invaded a medieval castle?  Who would win the battle?  Check out Aliens at the Gates for the answer.  You can also rate, recommend and add user created stories to your bookshelf.  This is an amazing creative outlet for kids who love to tell stories or create tall tales. 

We had an amazing time playing on this site and I expect we'll continue to use it on a daily basis.  I urge everyone to check it out.  There's something for ages 0-teenager.  Parents will get a kick out of it too. 

You can sign up for an account by visiting the website.  They offer a free account which will let you preview the services and create one book of your own.  To have full access to the site you can sign up for a personal account which is only $4.95 per month.  This is a great deal since most hardcover children's books are in the $15-$17 range.  You can save a ton of money by reading them online instead!  There are also accounts for families, classrooms and schools so this would be a great resource for teachers and homeschoolers as well. 

Until the end of the month, Big Universe is offering my readers a Personal Account free for one month!  Here's how to take advantage of this great deal:
  1. Visit https://biguniverse.com/account
  2. Select FREE account
  3. Fill out the short registration form 
  4. You will get an activation email.  Click on the link in the email to activate your account
  5. Sign in
  6. From your account page, enter promo code BUMOM09
  7. Your account will automatically be upgraded to a personal account for one month for free!
It's that easy!  This promo code is only valid until October 31 so hurry and take advantage of this great opportunity!

I hope you and your families have as much fun on this site as we did!  Leave a comment and let me know what you think! 


Bruce Teague said...

I loved reading when I was little, but with kids I feel like I only have time to read books with pictures and blogs. Maybe I should spend less time on the blogosphere. *gasp*

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