A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Reading Raven is an educational app designed to teach young kids reading skills, from pre-reading to reading short sentences, using voice-over instructions and mini-games. Parents can customize for three age ranges: 3 and up, 4 and up, and 5 and up. Parents should know that the free iPhone version only includes one lesson to try out the app; upgrading requires an in-app purchase. The HD iPad version ($3.99) includes all lessons.
What's it about?
Reading Raven stars a bird decked out in aviator glasses and a scarf, carrying books on its back. The raven guides kids from lesson to lesson as they engage in activities such as letter tracing, recording their own voice reading words, guiding word bubbles to a circus lion's mouth, and more; there are 11 types of games in all. Kids encounter various animals and other fun objects, from flying penguins to fly-catching frogs, as they tap to respond.
Is it any good?
Reading Raven introduces kids to every letter of the alphabet and coaches kids from letter recognition and phonics to tracing letters and writing words and forming simple sentences. It also allows kids to record and play back the words they learn, which is a nifty feature. Parents can access a guide as well as set options based on their child's reading level. Also, exercises can be skipped or repeated by swiping forward or backward on the Raven character. With great voice-overs and a smart, kid-friendly interface, this is an app kids can use independently at their own pace.
However, the app is probably better used with parent supervision and in short bursts, as kids could easily lose interest with the repetition, as there aren't any fun "discovery" events or particularly engaging sounds or rewards. The exercises are similar for each set of letters of the alphabet, although the app keeps it fresh with different environments. The reading/playback can be gamed as there isn't any built-in voice recognition. It's also a good idea for parents to be engaged with their kids as they play because there are no progress reports for parents to check to see how their kids are doing. Even with a few shortcomings, Reading Raven offers solid reading instruction in a fun game format.
For kids who love learning with apps
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