iStoryBooks

Common Sense Media says

Colorful, no-frills read-to-me originals and adaptations.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Kids on Android devices have to use the device's back button to navigation from titles back to myLibrary (main menu); on iOS devices they tap the screen and use the "Library" arrow. Kids swipe to move from page to page; there are no icons. There's no pause or repeat button, and no way to navigate to specific pages except for swiping through to them.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

The app comes with 25 free titles. Users can subscribe to get access to more books; a subscription is $.99/month. At the time of this review, the subscription process was not functioning on iOS devices, but worked fine for apps installed via Google Play or the Amazon Appstore.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know iStoryBooks offers up a collection of standard educational book fare in full page, read-to-me format for preschool and elementary ages. Download time can be lengthy and there are a few small  bugs here and there. The in-app purchase of additional titles (a $.99/month subscription) is protected by a multidigit addition password to keep kids out, but some precocious first-graders could figure this out. During our review the option to purchase additional titles didn't work on iOS devices.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • naming
  • reading comprehension
  • storytelling
  • vocabulary

Science

  • animals

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding

Skills

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • initiative

Communication

  • listening

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Art is good quality and design is clean, but iStoryBooks would really benefit from interactivity that supports each story, as well as higher-quality fiction.

Learning Approach

Kids listen to stories about transportation, animals, and people. Printed text matches each narration, so young readers can try to follow along, but with no highlighted words or interactive features they may not be interested.

Support

The app is OK without a help section, but some small on-screen buttons, the option to pause, and better navigation would improve the interface.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • naming
  • reading comprehension
  • storytelling
  • vocabulary

Science

  • animals

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding

Skills

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • initiative

Communication

  • listening

Kids can learn vocabulary, some reading comprehension skills, and elements of storytelling. Nonfiction titles offer some science and social studies concepts. Spanish titles provide opportunities for second language exposure or first language reinforcement. However, kids' reading skills may not get much of a boost as reading level is typically too high for the targeted ages and writing style is not exceptionally engaging. iStoryBooks offers kids free access to colorful books but would benefit from higher quality literature and a better user interface.

This Learning Rating review was written by Leslie Crenna

Parents say

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's it about?

Kids start at the myLibrary main menu and tap the cover of their desired title. They'll have to wait a bit for the download the first time it's read. Stories advance automatically in Movie Mode and are read by clear narration in Read to Me mode. Kids on Android devices have to use the device's back button to navigate from titles back to myLibrary (main menu); on iOS devices they tap the screen and use the "Library" arrow. A plus sign gives parents access to add new titles, but it did not work on iOS devices during our review.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

While nothing can compare to cuddling up with your kid and reading quality books together, talking books like those found in iStoryBooks also have their place in a child's reading world. An encouraging narrator reads nonfiction, biography, and folk tale adaptations -- some in Spanish -- such as "A to Z Fruits and Vegetable," "Three Little Pigs," "El Zorro Azul," a West African (Gambian) tale called "The Fish Snatcher," and "The Amazing Life of Helen Keller." Modern photos for "Sea Animals" and "Things That Go" fill the screen with crisp colors, and cartoon quality is comparatively good.

On the downside, reading level varies and is usually too high for kids to read themselves. While some titles have only one or two sentences per page, others have five. There is no option for words to be highlighted, and there is no pause button, which would really be nice, especially since mode changes and library deletions can only be made within titles. The occasional misspellings and editing errors will make many parents cringe. While the price is right for this free app, some parents will be left hungering for higher quality literature and cutting-edge art.

Families can talk about...

  • Read to your kids every day for at least 20 minutes. Pause occasionally and ask questions that help your kids relate what they're reading about to their real life.

  • Talk with your kids about what they've enjoyed reading about in the books. Follow up with a trip to the local library to find more books on topics that interest them.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free, Paid
Subscription price:$.99/month
Release date:July 12, 2012
Category:Education
Size:1.50 MB
Publisher:Informarvel Business Solutions, Inc
Version:Android varies with device; iOS 1.1.12
Minimum software requirements:Android varies with device; iOS 4.3 or later

This review of iStoryBooks was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byHoward Edison July 30, 2011
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

OMG

It is an inpropiate game why because i press an hidden button and it show me the KLGJFEAJFL AE A DWA JFGOELAKF MAF EA F*explosion*
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of an infant, 3, 5, and 8 year old Written byTaximom4four February 21, 2014
AGE
6
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

We enjoy iStorybooks

It is entertaining for my children and they enjoy the app.

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