The Best Books... Online

Dr. Seuss and other favorite children's authors come to life on the Web.

The Best Books... Online, p.1

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Should you and your kids snuggle up with a good Web site? Definitely, says Maria Salvadore, a children's book expert who was formerly coordinator of children's services for the Washington, DC, public library system. "I like the Web both as a way to find out about books and as a link to activities that bring books to life," Salvadore says.

Before you cozy up in front of the computer, keep two things in mind: First, it's a good idea to preview book sites by yourself. Some of them are too text-heavy for restless kids; others require plug-ins such as Shockwave that you should install in advance (they can take forever to download). Second, remember that unlike wandering through the children's library, surfing the Internet requires adult supervision. "I wouldn't set young children in front of the TV without being sure what they were watching," says Salvadore, herself the mother of a 7-year-old. "The Internet is another medium that should be a shared adventure." Here are five worthwhile book-related sites where you and your child can click, play, and read together:

The Arthur Site (ages 4 to 8) What it's like: The site is organized around the characters from Marc Brown's popular Arthur the Aardvark books and television show. Main attractions: Kids will love sending e-postcards, writing poems for Fern's poetry club, and playing Francine's "un-matching game" (pick the word that doesn't fit). Moms and dads will like the Parents' Corner, with tips for reading with children and a guide for planning an Arthur birthday party, including printable party hats and thank-you notes for kids to color. Keep in mind: Would your child get a kick out of having D.W. grinning at her from the computer desktop? Help her install Muffy's Wallpaper, a program that lets kids choose from various Arthur screen savers.

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