OnceAppon - A good night story maker for kids

App review by
Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Media
OnceAppon - A good night story maker for kids App Poster Image
Customizable story cute start for early readers.

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the empowerment that comes with customizing a story. They also can practice reading, speaking, or listening skills, depending on how they choose to experience their stories. Kids can read text, listen to a narrator, or record their own voices. In the narrator mode, a text version appears on the screen once a page is read aloud. With help from an adult, early readers can use this feature to help make the connection between spoken words and reading text. However, because the story always has the same core plot, kids miss out on creating their own stories. Also, the basic story elements are never highlighted in any way; if they were, the repetition of the basic plot might help kids learn what's at the heart of a good story. Kids will definitely love the recording feature and the customization options in OnceAppon - a good night story maker for kids, but after a few times through, they might have more fun writing and illustrating their own creations.

Ease of Play

A cheerful narrator helps kids get started. Some options, such as voice recording, might be a little tough for younger kids to figure out.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

A shopping-cart icon on the main page takes users to the developer's website. A "coming soon" message appears when users click on the store tab.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that OnceAppon – A good night story maker for kids is a digital learning tool that kids can use to create their own avatars and stories. Kids will love creating the avatars, which have many customizable options for body features and clothing. When they create their stories, kids can choose their avatar as the "hero." A narrator guides kids through the process, and once they're finished, kids can read or listen to their story, which has an overall bedtime theme. Kids also can record their own voices telling the story and then play it back. Despite the many options kids get to choose, the basic story is always the same, which may be disappointing for some kids. There is a parents' section with information about the developers and the app's contributors, but two voices speak at once in different languages, and there is no guidance or advice for parents.

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What's it about?

Kids can choose from two main options: Avatar or Book. In Avatar mode, kids create custom avatars that they can use as the main characters in their stories. Customizable options include body features such as hairstyle and color, eye shape and color, nose shape, and more. There also are plenty of clothing options, including styles and colors for shirts, pants, shoes, and accessories. Kids name and save their avatars when they're finished. In Book mode, kids create their own stories using a template that allows them to select certain features and a main story line. For example, kids start by selecting a hero (one of the avatars) and then the hero's preferences for snacks, a costume, party accessories, a game, a ball sport, and a toy. Then, kids choose from four story themes more options within that theme. When they're finished, kids can save and then read the story, have it read by a narrator, or record their own voice reading it and then play story back.

Is it any good?

ONCEAPPON – A GOOD NIGHT STORY MAKER FOR KIDS is a fun and empowering way for kids to create their own storybooks -- at first. Designing the avatars, and then using them in the stories, is a clever way to engage kids in the process. The graphics are bright and colorful, and several of them are interactive on each story page. Although there are many customizable options, the overall plot is the same no matter which options kids choose. Some more variety and a bit of basic instruction about story elements could keep kids interested for longer. Allowing kids to combine the elements into a story of their own invention also would give it a longer shelf life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the five main elements of stories and how they relate to the stories that kids create. Talk about the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. 

  • Help kids write their own illustrated stories from scratch. Have younger kids draw pictures to tell their stories.

App details

  • Device: iPad
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: reading, storytelling
  • Skills: Creativity: imagination
    Communication: speaking
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: October 30, 2014
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 665.00 MB
  • Publisher: OnceAppon
  • Version: 1.0.2
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 5.1.1 or later
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love storytelling and digital creation

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