What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Reading Rainbow offers a library of books to users, themed according to a child's interests (action adventures, magical tales, etc.). Kids can choose to have a book read aloud to them or to read the book themselves. To access more than five books, however, you'll have to subscribe to the app: $10 for one month, $30 for six months, or $50 for one year -- all on a recurring basis.
What's it about?
Children can select up to five ebooks at any time from a library of more than 300 titles to keep in their app's backpack. Like with most ebooks, kids can read the books themselves or have them read by a narrator. Books are categorized by a series of floating islands, which have a sliding list of titles. Finishing a book earns kids a sticker reward. Reading Rainbow also features mini-films covering a wide range of educational topics, and has a dashboard to help parents track what their kid is reading (and the time spent on each book).
Is it any good?
Reading Rainbow is a nostalgic touchstone for many of today's parents, so there's bound to be some concerns that the app can't live up to the landmark television program. In this case, those fears are unfounded, as it keeps the focus strictly on education and the joy of learning. Host LeVar Burton returns as a guide through the app, but lets the books and the users be the star. And the promised future enhancements, such as the "book report" feature that played heavily in the show, are another reason to get excited. Stickers help keep kids motivated, and parents can monitor how often their kids use the app.
There are a few down sides. First, the monthly subscription fee is steep. Given the large collection of books available, it's not unreasonable, but it will be a deterrence to some. Second, we'd like to see more interest areas to choose from when setting up profiles -- some kids will struggle to select three of the presented topics. And finally, we'd like to see the narration highlight words as they're read, but that's a minor quibble.
Families can talk about...
Parents can talk about the different subjects of each episode -- and use them as launching points for trips to the library or real-world locations.
Ask kids which stories they enjoy most, and find out why. Does the app make them more interested in reading?
Check out Reading Rainbow DVDs at your local library.