Let's Read

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Let's Read App Poster Image
Story recording is static but easy to use for everyone.

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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 magic of reading. A variety of stories will introduce them to cross-cultural and timeless themes present in storytelling for generations. Recordings from far away friends and family members can provide kids with a way to stay connected with loved ones they don't get to see very often.

Ease of Play

A demonstration video and pop up reminders make recording easy.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

A 30-day free trial let's users try out the service. After that, they'll need to purchase a subscription to keep using the app.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Let's Read offers a library of illustrated digital storybooks which users can record themselves reading out loud. Anyone in the same family network can then open a story with a recording and flip through as the story is "read" to them. The library includes actual published stories in digital form and features a lot of folk tales and fables from around the world. Parents must sign up with a user name, password, and email address to begin using the app. They can add up to five devices on the same account and send personal invitations to include up to four other people in their personal library. To begin recording, users need to allow access to their device's camera. Recordings are available to everyone in the private family network, and can't be accessed by anyone outside the network.  A 30-day free trial comes with the free download, after which parents must pay a $2.99/month for a subscription. At the time of this review, Let's Read suddenly closed multiple times while using; though users can simply open the app again to get back into it, this may throw kids off if they're using it on their own. And, with multiple recordings the app may start to need a lot of storage space on your device. 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?

Provide an email address and make a user name and password to create an administrator account with LET'S READ. Once in, a demo video clearly shows how to make a recording. Choose a story, and record your face and voice as you read, page by page. Options while you're recording include moving the video bubble around on the page so that it doesn't cover something important, or delete a recording to try again. The administrator can add devices or invite family and friends to join their network. Anyone in the network can then open recordings or make their own.

Is it any good?

Despite the developer's exaggerated claims of the benefits of storybook recording, this library of small, but varied and mostly high quality stories provides a unique and easy to use platform for digitizing family reading time. Snuggling together with a loved one to share a story is a one of a kind experience for kids, filled with so much more than just the mechanics of reading a book. That said, there are plenty of reasons why we can't always provide that special time with the kids in our lives. Let's Read is certainly easy to use, which makes recording really accessible even for those who may not be totally comfortable with technology. The library is relatively small, but has actual published books, so most of them are quality stories with beautiful illustrations. There's a great variety of cultural folk tales and experiences represented from a family celebrating Shabbat in the Wild West to coping with a deployed military parent to a Vietnamese story about how tiger got his stripes. It would be nice if the library separated books for which there was a recording so that they are easier for kids to find. Though a static recording of a loved one reading a book for a kid to watch alone will never replace the magic of sharing a story in real time, Let's Read offers a decent second choice.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the stories in the Let's Read library. Which ones do your kids enjoy the most? Why? There are lots of fables and "teaching" tales. What lessons do these stories teach?

  • Make sure to provide ample in person reading time too. Kids watching a screen alone can never give them the benefit of the physical connection, the back and forth, the opportunity to ask questions and spark conversation, or the shared experience that comes with snuggling together to read a story.

  • When kids are old enough to read, they may enjoy recording themselves reading out loud. Let them show far-away loved ones how well their reading skills are coming along!

App details

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For kids who love reading and being together

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