Kids – Reading
(See also Literature – Fiction)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Bookworm Student Library (7th grade & up) has 18 CD-ROM titles, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Poetry of Emily Dickinson, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Little Women, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In each program you can read, highlight, use bookmarks, make margin notes, look up the meaning of a word, or access statements – sometimes emphasized with audio, video, or an illustration – on interpretation, text history, themes, and literary devices. There’s also a very efficient search engine. This makes for a powerful learning tool. So it’s truly annoying that the product is less than the sum of its parts. The text is nicely displayed onscreen, but if you access an audio clip you can’t scroll down to follow the text while the audio is playing. And the dialogue box for an audio segment typically obscures the text. The video is often just stills strung together, and there are not nearly enough of them, or of the illustrations. But much more serious than these technical irritants are fundamental questions of scholarship and authority. When you access “Interpretation”, whose interpretation is it? Who is the author of the Summary or Themes segment on an Emily Dickinson poem? Who is playing Lady Macbeth? Since students are the target for these discs, they would be hard-pressed to use information learned here in a paper or report. Most teachers will want to know just exactly who you are quoting, and what your source is. Correcting these serious omissions, and adding an authoritative bibliography and a general introductory essay (from a respected scholar) would make these CD-ROMs indispensable educational references for students and fine additions to the multimedia libraries of everyone else.
– August 1995