The Day-Glo Brothers on a free app – what a bright idea!

Posted by on Jan 2, 2013 in Art, Biography, Early Learning, Non-Fiction, People Smart, Range of Reading, Science, Technology | 0 comments

I’m a librarian partly because I couldn’t afford my book habit if I had to buy every book I read. So when I’m looking for e-books, I usually look for free ones (some call me cheap, I prefer “fantastically frugal”). But I don’t want crummy books – I want the good stuff! Leave it to Reading Rainbow to hook me up with quality children’s books for free (and a huge variety of even more titles if I want to pay for a subscription).

I downloaded the free Reading Rainbow app to my iPad and was greeted by Levar Burton ( a man who has lured more children to reading  than the Pied Piper lured rats, but you don’t have to take *my* word for it.) I was thrilled to find one of my favorite biographies, with complete text and art, a bit of fun animation, and even a game to play.

The Day-Glo Brothers: the true story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s bright ideas and brand-new colors is written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tony Persiani. Bob and Joe Switzer were in their father’s drugstore when they discovered that certain chemicals glow under ultraviolet light. With lots of experimenting and some accidental luck, the brothers invented colors that would glow even in sunlight, those neon colors called Day-Glo. It’s a “brilliant” story about perseverance, for, as Joe used to say, “If just one experiment out of a thousand succeeds, then you’re ahead of the game.”

So now you can share this enlightening biography (CCSS Range of Reading – check!) with your students for free in paper-book form from the library, or you can share it on iPads with the free Reading Rainbow app. Charlesbridge has a free activity guide to go with the book, along with an author interview and an animation on how fluorescence works.  How fun would it be to put a blacklight  in a lamp in your classroom and get fluorescent markers for an art project. Students can try making one of the props Joe used in his magic shows, or you can have students demonstrate with Day-Glo colors why we see the phases of the moon. A great biography on a free app – what a bright idea!


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