Disney Story Central

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Disney Story Central App Poster Image
Favorite characters, badge rewards motivate kids to read.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn reading skills and to read for enjoyment as they discover a variety of books featuring favorite characters. They can listen to the stories read aloud, absorbing language, ideas, and vocabulary. Emerging readers can read along as they listen to the words being read to them, and established readers can read to themselves. Since the app offers leveled readers, parents may want to guide kids in choosing challenging books for their reading levels, but kids of all ages enjoy (and benefit from) a good read-aloud. Disney Story Central's badge system motivates kids to read daily, and the variety of content ensures they'll enjoy it.

Ease of Play

Kids can choose to read stories themselves, have them read to them, or listen to them on autoplay. 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The Disney stories all tie in to other Disney shows, movies, or characters -- all of which are heavily cross-marketed. A logo ad links to other apps from Disney, but it's protected behind a kid-lock screen. Signing up for a parent account gets four tokens to choose four books. You can buy additional tokens, with prices ranging from one for $3.99 to 25 for $24.99. Starter packs are available at a discount.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Disney Story Central is a token-based library of stories featuring Disney characters. When parents register for a Disney Story Central account, they receive four tokens with which they can choose four books. After that, parents must purchase tokens that kids can use to choose other books. The book prices are comparable with, and even a bit less expensive than, individual print or digital storybooks -- but they aren't interactive. As kids read books, they earn badges to motivate them to read more. Parents can set up multiple kids on each device, but token packages and books can't be shared among readers. 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?

Parents must help kids set up their accounts in DISNEY STORY CENTRAL by entering birth dates and buying tokens, but then kids are free to choose their own avatars from Disney characters and the books they want to buy. Kids can choose to have books read to them, listen to them on autoplay, or read themselves. When they finish a book, they get a badge reward for reading for consecutive days or for reading different types of stories. Kids can search books by recommendations based on their age and gender or by character.

Is it any good?

There's not much new about Disney Story Central -- Disney has other apps that do the same thing with pretty much the same story selection and token system for kids to choose their own stories. The wide range of characters will appeal to lots of kids, from fans of Sofia the First to Wreck It Ralph to Phineas and Ferb. The badge system rewards kids for reading for consecutive days and about different characters -- which motivates kids to read more (and encourages them to ask parents to buy more books). Books are leveled, as well, with blue-bordered books being targeted as read-alouds for preschoolers and green-bordered books targeted for early readers, levels 1 to 3. The books read more like traditional storybooks than interactive books. Words are highlighted as they're read, but the pages don't have interactive features and words can't be reread. For families that prefer to read digital books and like to buy character-based storybooks, Disney Story Central is a great tool. For everyone else, the four free books are worth exploring.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their favorite characters from Disney shows and movies and together make up and share their own stories featuring those characters.

  • Read with your kids every day. Digital stories make reading together easy and convenient.

App details

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