Smart Tales: Books and Games

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Smart Tales: Books and Games App Poster Image
Solid preschool activity set aims high, feels familiar.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Simple stories expose kids to rhyme, rhythm, and a variety of language sounds. Stories address a variety of themes including emotional awareness, empathy, staying germ-free. Mini activities give kids practice with school readiness skills such as matching, sorting, color and shape recognition, patterns, etc.

Ease of Play

Easily swipe to browse stories; tap and drag to advance through them and complete activities.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

After a short introduction, users need to sign up for a subscription to access content.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Smart Tales: Books and Games is a subscription-based library of short stories with integrated activities. The content is meant to address a range of general school readiness topics like problem-solving, empathy, and emotional awareness. Sometimes load times are long, which may frustrate kids. Parents can choose from five languages in the settings menu: Italian, English, French, German, and Spanish. Hint for starting the app after opening it for the first time: If it seems like it's taking a really long time to load, it may just be waiting for you to tap the book and start the story. There's very little to try with the free download; parents need to subscribe to check out the content. New content should be available weekly. 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?

After a short intro, SMART TALES: BOOKS AND GAMES asks users to subscribe. Pass through a parent gate to choose a subscription plan and start the seven-day free trial. Kids tap through simple stories, often in rhyme, that recount various animal adventures. Every few pages the story stops to let kids complete an activity related to the story theme, such as a puzzle, a matching game, a continue-the-pattern activity, and so on. Kids can follow along with the text as an actor reads the story and activity instructions out loud. Stories are organized by theme: The Farm, Save the Forest, Luna in Space, and more. Each story lasts a few minutes, and stories within the same theme build on each other.

Is it any good?

Brightly colored animals and silly stories will likely appeal to kids, though the quality of the stories and activities is a bit ho-hum. Rhyming and rhythm are tried-and-true methods for engaging kids with language. But the wording in Smart Tales is sometimes a bit odd, and the rhymes don't always work out particularly well -- at least in the English version. Its multiple languages make Smart Tales accessible to more families, and the text may be more successful in other languages. Unfortunately, the integrated activities are also mostly mediocre. Games are standard multiple-choice pick a match, or drag-and-drop puzzles, for example. They're super simple, which makes them easy for little ones but not all that exciting or creative. Finally, the main menu is a bit confusing, with the same content appearing in multiple places. Overall, Smart Tales: Books and Games isn't particularly innovative or exciting, but it does offer some solid fun for the early preschool crowd.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Smart Tales: Books and Games' learning themes. Point out pre-STEM concepts like patterns, comparing size, or sorting.

  • Read with your kids and ask them what stories they like best and why. At the end of each chapter, ask them what they think will happen next. 

  • Recite nursery rhymes, sing songs, and read books with your kids as much as possible. Emphasize the sounds, rhymes, and rhythm.

App details

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