Speakaboos Website Poster Image

Speakaboos

(i)

 

Large digital library with reading supports -- for a fee.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn a love for reading. The classic fairy tales and other fiction are fun adventures in imagination, creativity, and flexible thinking. Kids can be inspired to appreciate the magic of suspending their reality to follow the twists and turns of stories about other people, places, and experiences. The nonfiction books are informative, teaching about anything from, for example, dinosaurs to the changing seasons. Speakaboos will help kids practice their own reading skills as they follow the text along with the narrator or take a stab at reading on their own.

Positive messages

Helps kids feel that learning is fun.

Violence & scariness

Usual fairy, folk tale villains on hand, including somewhat scary characters such as mean stepmothers, witches with gingerbread homes.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Offers a monthly subscription, plus an iPad app. Visitors can sign up for a seven-day free trial.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Speakaboos is a reading site that requires a paid subscription to access content. Users can sign up for a subscription, where they're asked to provide a name and credit card information. The site offers paid monthly and yearly subscriptions. There's no free account, but users can try out the site for free for seven days. Content includes a large library of books, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as songs. Content is relatively safe, although some stories have the standard fairy and folk tale villains, such as evil stepmothers and witches.

Kids say

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What's it about?

The SPEAKABOOS site lets kids read or listen to stories -- ranging from traditional fairy tales to popular character-based books, such as the Arthur series -- read by celebrities including Nick Cannon. Kids also can sing along to well-known tunes such as "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" or play matching and other games. Because words accompany the narration, the storybook section gives kids a fun way to practice reading skills. Each story also includes suggested reading and grade levels while listing relevant themes such as fairness and honesty. Parents can browse the library and filter stories by theme and other categories.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

This digital library puts lots of stories, easy reading practice, and even some simple interactive games right at kids' fingertips. Speakaboos offers a collection of classic tales and some intriguing stories, but other than that, the majority of books are not great literature; simple books about everyday life seem more prevalent than fiction. But a nice variety of actors read tales (Chazz Palminteri's "Jack and the Beanstalk," anyone?), and design is colorful and accessible. But it would be nice if all (rather than some) books had a read-myself option, too. Kids who are familiar with various TV characters will particularly enjoy the character books -- especially the ones they can interact with. It's also nice that parents can search for books according to specific criteria, though there's no way to mark particular books or create a reading list. Overall, Speakaboos is appealing and accessible for early reading practice. The main catch is that the site's content will cost you.  

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether it's better to visit a website to learn about reading or kids should just pick up a book. Can there be a balance between online time and offline reading? What limits should parents set on computer time?

  • Talk about the importance of reading together. Read our article "Reading Rainbow Signs Off" for more on keeping reading alive.

  • Fairy tales can be fun to read -- but many also involve a lesson, such as treating others with respect or being honest. What did the characters in some of the stories you watched and listened to on the site learn? What can you learn from their experiences?

  • If you enjoyed the stories on the site, could you write your own? Families can discuss the creative process, from thinking of something to write about to finishing and sharing a story.

Website details

Subjects:Language & Reading: reading, storytelling, vocabulary
Genre:Educational
Topics:Cars and trucks, Dinosaurs, Holidays, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Music and sing-along
Pricing structure:Free to Try, Paid (Free 7-day trial; $4.99/month; or $49.99/year)

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What parents and kids say

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Educator Written byginagibbs July 12, 2010

Good site for PK thru 1st

I liked the game section and activities very much. I also liked the stories read. The only thing I would improve is the graphics on many of these stories. I did like the Author stories that use the original illustrations. The readers were clear and animated.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Adult Written byGoldenElephant February 10, 2014

Pricing has updated, lots more options and stories

The top review says that you only get a 14-day trial, but this has since changed. Now when you sign up for a free account, you get five free stories online. I'm not sure what the app's coverage is at this time but it's a great way for kids to stay busy for a few minutes while I'm trying to quickly answer the phone or something. The stories are all divided by category, so my 4-year-old girl can watch what she likes. Worth the subscription for sure too.
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 1 and 3 year old Written byjmo444 October 31, 2009

if you need 5 to sweep or do the dishes

i love this site! my only issue is it is fairly new so the content is a little sparse right now but hopefuly will expand soon...

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