What parents need to know
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
Language & Reading
- reading comprehension
- cultural understanding
- academic development
Engagement, Approach, Support
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.
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.
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'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?
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.
|Devices:||iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire|
|Pricing structure:||Free, Paid|
|Release date:||July 12, 2012|
|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|