Baby Einstein: Storytime

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Baby Einstein: Storytime App Poster Image
Simple wording, music appeal to tots but lack substance.

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Educational Value

Kids interact with simple books about standard themes for young kids like animals, colors, art, counting, music, and nature. They can practice reading on their own, or follow the highlighted text with the read-to-me option. The collection of classical music gives kids some exposure to that type of music. In the creative section kids can use the stickers to make scenes and tell stories.  

Ease of Play

Tapping through the stories is easy. In "create" mode, the stickers menu may be confusing for young kids.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The free download includes limited content. Locked content requires in-app purchases to open. A small icon on the home screen advertises other brand name apps from the same developer. A parent gate protects against access to those additional apps as well as any in-app purchases. The app is also part of the Baby Einstein brand.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Baby Einstein: Storytime is a collection of simple digital books set to a classical music background. The stories are short and kids can choose autoplay, read to me, or read on my own. There are some interactive features in the books, which may distract some kids. In a "create" area, kids can use various backgrounds and stickers to make their own scenes. According to the developer -- and in alignment with the Baby Einstein brand -- the app's target audience is babies and toddlers, but the AAP recommends prioritizing offscreen activities for kids under two years of age and using any on-screen media with kids. The free download includes one story and lots of grayed out, locked content. Parents can purchase additional storypacks individually for $.99 each, or buy all 11 of them for $9.99. The download size is large; make sure your device has enough memory. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

After tapping start, scroll left and right to browse the 11 available stories in BABY EINSTEIN: STORYTIME. Tap the one you want, then choose read to me, read it myself, autoplay, or create. The three read options take kids to a short story about nature, art, music, animals, or other similar topic. Each page has vibrating circles that indicate places where kids can tap to see something happen. The stories all include a classical music soundtrack. In the create section, kids can decorate a blank slate with backgrounds and stickers from the stories, and choose their own classical music accompaniment.

Is it any good?

Bright cutesy graphics, simple sentences, and restyled classical music combine for high kid appeal, but most potential for meaningful interaction depends on reinforcement offscreen. Baby Einstein: Storytime touches on topics like animals, water play, or the farm. And getting kids engaged with language and reading is certainly a good thing. But most of these stories aren't exactly great kids' classics. In addition, interactive elements often have nothing to do with the story. So, instead of strengthening learning, they can end up distracting kids from paying attention to the text. The pulsating circles inviting kids to jab at the screen make the potential for distraction even bigger. Sure it's nice to encourage your kids to listen to classical music, but it's also just as easy to play some in the background while you go about your day. Finally, the sticker menu in the create mode may end up confusing kids rather than enabling them to create. That said, parents could use the stories to spark meaningful interaction and conversation with their kids, which would really enhance the app's value. On its own though, Baby Einstein: Storytime isn't the worst option for toddlers, but it also isn't the best.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the topics in Baby Einstein: Storytime. Read together and ask them to predict what will happen next. Or, ask them what they remember from their most recent summer.

  • Make your policy on in-app purchases clear before using the app. Should your kids expect to just use the free story, or are you willing to buy them all?

  • Take a cue from the app's main themes and introduce lots of reading and classical music in your kid's day. Visit the library to browse for fun books. Play classical music in the background throughout the day. Pause sometimes and ask how the music makes your kids feel.

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love apps for toddlers and co-use apps

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