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Bookful

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Bookful App Poster Image
AR digital books more cool graphics than great reads.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the topics featured in the books, including dinosaurs and classic kids literature. AR and 3D graphics make the books come alive, which may inspire some kids to discover the magic of books.

Ease of Play

It takes some deft maneuvering to turn, resize, and move around 3D illustrations.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Limited content available with free download. Kids can see the first few pages of books before hitting a pay wall. There's also a large ad for in app purchases on the main screen.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bookful is a small library of books and related games enhanced with 3D graphics and Augmented Reality (AR). Kids need access to the device's camera to allow the 3D and AR aspects to work. Kids will be moving around as they explore the graphics, so make sure they can do so safely. Books include fiction and nonfiction in the form of independently published interactive e-books and classics, like The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Stories are read aloud with musical soundtrack though the sound can be turned off. Navigating the 3D graphics requires some careful finger manipulation, which may be difficult for younger kids. Bookful only works on devices that are new enough to support AR technology; check the list of compatible devices on the developer's website. The free download includes two free books, the first few pages of the rest of the books, and a few games. Purchase individual books for $3.99 each or a bundle of nine for $19.99. At the time of this review, there was also an option to create a holiday-themed photo or video with a dancing Santa using the AR technology. The app needed access to your device's camera roll for the feature to work. 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?

Browse the BOOKFUL library to find a book and then choose to read it or play its associated games. The read mode starts an audio narration and 3D illustrations. At any time kids can switch to AR mode, turn off the background music, and access a how-to tutorial. In 3D mode, kids can rotate, move, and resize graphics; in AR mode, they simply walk around the graphic to see it from different angles. Games use the same 3D or AR graphics as the books, and include memory, spelling hide and seek, and coloring activities.  

Is it any good?

Though the 3D and AR graphics are certainly cool and lots of fun, it's not clear that they add much to the reading experience in this small library. Both the 3D and AR graphics offer a really neat way to get a 360-degree, animated look at the book's graphics. On a small phone screen, the graphics feel a bit small, so the bigger the screen, the better the experience. Though while some of the books are great titles, the focus on super fancy graphics may actually distract kids from the actual reading. The games are mostly simple, but they do add an additional way for kids to interact with the app. Parents looking for a digital library to offer reading practice and kids literature to their kids will do best looking elsewhere. But parents looking to let their enjoy some of technology's latest achievements in creating digital worlds may want to check out Bookful.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the books in Bookful. What books appeal to your kids? Why? Read them together and talk about what you read.

  • How is it different reading a book on a screen versus on paper? How about the 3D and AR graphics? What does it feel like to watch the story happen all around you? Does it make it more interesting? Why or why not?

  • If any of the books spark kids' interest, help them find more information. Do they like the music series? Listen to classical music or to the sounds of different instruments. Loved the snakes book? Find out more with documentaries, internet searches, or visits to the library or pet store.

App details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love book apps and augmented reality

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