How Rocket Learned to Read - by Tad Hills

App review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
How Rocket Learned to Read - by Tad Hills App Poster Image
Clever interactions match the book's joy-of-reading message.

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

Ease of Play

One of the mini-games -- which requires kids to tilt the iPad back and forth in order to slide Rocket across the bottom of the screen and catch falling letters -- requires a bit more precision than many preschoolers have. But outside of that, the app is incredibly easy to use.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that How Rocket Learned to Read — by Tad Hills is an adorable picture book about the joys of learning to read. It is also a very nice learn-to-read app in itself. In addition to the story, the app offers a pair of educational mini-games. There are also multiple points during the story that kids can tap interactive spots that allow them to learn words and letters. There's even a place (an open field of snow) for them to practice writing.

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Is it any good?

With lovely illustrations, a cute plot, and great narration by actress Hope Davis, HOW ROCKET LEARNED TO READ — BY TAD HILLS would already be a wonderful picture book app. But what makes it even more special is the way the entire app feels designed to back up the book's message about the joys of learning to read. The word games, the chance for kids to write in the snow (just like the dog, Rocket, does in one of the illustrations), the many chalkboards on which kids get to see words that begin with each letter -- it all works toward the main theme. Kids can even tap any word in the text to hear it spoken aloud. This is great example of how publishers can use app features to enhance what's already great about a book.

App details

  • Device: iPad
  • Price: $4.99
  • Release date: January 21, 2011
  • Category: Books
  • Publisher: Random House Digital, Inc.
  • Version: 1.0
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 3.2 or later
  • Last updated: August 25, 2016

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