Three-toed Sloths

It may seem strange for a librarian to recommend YouTube videos as a reading strategy, but hear me out.

The 21st century has given us technology that can be a burden and a chore (says anyone forced to answer work email during vacation). But for children, it's also a great opportunity to stoke curiosity and build a sophisticated level of background knowledge about a wide variety of topics.

Building background knowledge is, indeed, the number one way to improve reading comprehension. The more a child knows about a topic, the easier it is to read an understand text about a wide variety of topics.

And one of the best new modern ways to develop background knowledge?

You guessed it: YouTube.

What's more, your child has probably already discovered it and is just waiting for you to help cultivate their curiosity with even richer sources of knowledge: books!

So, say you find a funny picture of a sloth in your Facebook feed and show it to your child, who wants to know more about this strange, slow and fascinating creature. Together, you find a series of sloth videos perfect to watch with your child, from Animal Planet and National Geographic, that gives more information about sloths but also shows what they look like, how they move, and what they eat.

And then you say the magic words: "Let's go see what the library has about sloths!"

Books, glorious books, so many books, at the library! Books upon books about sloths, all ready for your child to check out, pore over, learning more and becoming experts.

...And to think: it all started with a YouTube video!

- Laura Raphael, Children's Services Coordinator