Archive for the ‘reading apps’ Category

iPad App Review: Wild About Books by Judy Sierra

February 17, 2011

I don’t usually review books here on Literacy Toolbox.  Instead I tend to save book reviews for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books.  More often than not, as I read a picture book, I read it with an educator frame.  In other words, how can I use this book in the classroom?  And so, books I review tend to find themselves on my educator blog.

However, I have come across several books lately that I feel parents would find helpful as well.  So, this month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share books or apps that I have recently read and/or played with my kids.

Wild About Books App

Since we purchased our iPhones several years ago, I have been on the lookout for great, quality book apps to entertain my children in times when we must wait somewhere.  Then we purchased our iPad and I continued the search.  It’s been slow going.  I have very specific criteria I look for in e-books for my children.  I want them to be interactive, but provide as much of a natural reading experience as it can.  I want the book to entertain and engage them in their reading.  I really prefer that they are quality picture books that I would read to my children anyway.

My children are very particular, too.  If it doesn’t grab their attention, it’s usually not an app that they will go back to.  Many of the apps they do return to have some kind of interactive/game component.  I don’t think that the e-book will ever “replace” the traditional book for my children, but I do think that it’s important for them to understand and learn how to navigate the e-book experience.

I was already familiar with the How Rocket Learned to Read app, when I came upon the Wild About Books app, both by Random House Children’s Books.  My friend, Susan (@bookchook), wrote a fantastic post about picture books and how important they are to readers and embedded in the post was a video of the Wild About Books app, which I promptly downloaded.  The app is $2.99 which to me is completely reasonable!  I have the hardback version of the book as well, which I’m sure cost me at least $14.00.

The story is another great way to motivate readers.  What happens when Ms. McGrew drives her bookmobile into the zoo?  Why the animals learn to read of course – and love to read, too!

The Wild About Books app is the electronic version of  Wild About Books by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Marc Brown.  This app is a bit simpler in that it doesn’t have corresponding games, like How Rocket Learned to Read.  It is just the book.  However, you can have the book read to you, or you can read it yourself.  The fantastic part of the electronic version of this book is that it really brings the traditional book alive.  The illustrations, amazing in the traditional book, move and pop in the electronic version.  Children can click on different parts of the illustrations and make different animal sounds or make them move.  They can hear the train whistle or the bookmobile’s horn honk.

If you have a reader who needs a little motivation, consider downloading this app.  Your child will have fun interacting with the story, as it is being read to him.  Or, encourage him to read the book himself.  The next time you are stuck somewhere, you will have a quality picture book for your child to read.  The fact of the matter is, prior to downloading either Wild About Books or How Rocket Learned to Read, I had already purchased the traditional books.  I’m perfectly happy to purchase both if the books are high quality.  Both of these picture books are and so are their electronic counterparts!

I want my children to be able to download quality books for our iPad or iPhone.  Up until now, I have not been happy with the quality of books available for children.  I have been patiently waiting for children’s book publishers to create book apps for the iPad and iPhone.  I’m glad the day is finally here.  I hope more publishers will jump on the bandwagon.

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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iPad App Review: How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills

February 15, 2011

I don’t usually review books here on Literacy Toolbox.  Instead I tend to save book reviews for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books.  More often than not, as I read a picture book, I read it with an educator frame.  In other words, how can I use this book in the classroom?  And so, books I review tend to find themselves on my educator blog.

However, I have come across several books lately that I feel parents would find helpful as well.  So, this month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share books or apps that I have recently read and/or played with my kids.

How Rocket Learned to Read App

This book app for the iPad is one of the best I’ve seen by far.  Essentially it brings the picture book, How Rocket Learned to Read, to life.  The bird flaps his wings.  Rocket’s eyes move and his tail wags.  The animated illustrations are fabulous.  The colors are sharp.  And of course, then there is the actual book and related activities.

The book itself is a great story to motivate readers.  Rocket, the dog, stumbles upon Bird’s classroom one day. He begins to learn how to read and when the bird goes away in the fall, Rocket tries to find other ways to continue to read.  By the time Bird returns in the spring, Rocket is reading and enjoying every minute of it!

As a reader, children have an option to have the book read to them, which highlights the words as it reads.  Or, children can read the book themselves.  Additionally, there are two games.  First, children have the opportunity to put letters in alphabetical order.  This is great for your toddlers and preschoolers learning letters and their order.  And there is a sight word game.  Children are given five different sight words that begin with the same letter.  They hear the sight word and then click on the correct one.

My daughter was particularly happy to play the games.  She enjoyed finding the correct sight word based on hearing it, as well as putting the letters in alphabetical order.  I think this is because she prefers to be involved.  She likes the interactivity of book apps, but I have yet to find one that captures her interest enough for her to listen to the book as it is read to her.  I think she still much prefers books to e-books.  But, I think that is her age.

As a parent, I wholeheartedly recommend this app.  I think, in time, my daughter will enjoy reading the book on the iPad.  More than likely, when she actually knows how to read.  In the meantime, if you have a beginning reader, this is a fantastic app to teach alphabetical order, sight words, and most importantly, the love of reading!

Disclosure: I won a free promo code for this app via Twitter and Random House Books

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Reading App Review: Bob Books App

February 10, 2011

I don’t usually review books here on Literacy Toolbox.  Instead I tend to save book reviews for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books.  More often than not, as I read a picture book, I read it with an educator frame.  In other words, how can I use this book in the classroom?  And so, books I review tend to find themselves on my educator blog.

However, I have come across several books lately that I feel parents would find helpful as well.  So, this month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share books or apps that I have recently read and/or played with my kids.

Bob Books App

Technically, Bob Books isn’t a book – well, they do have books, but my children have never read them.  However, when I saw they had app for the iPad, I had to download it.  My children use our iPad fairly regularly, mainly for educational games and books.  I knew Bob Books are pretty popular and so I felt the app would be a great tool to enhance my daughter’s beginning reading skills.

Bob Books were created to “guide your child gently through the earliest stages of reading.”  My preschooler sat down one afternoon and played with this app.  The app begins with a black and white picture and a sentence describing the picture.  Children click on specific parts of the picture and then spell the word, phonetically, by dragging the correct letters to the word (which is already spelled for them) in any order.  After they complete the spelling of all of the parts, the sentence is read aloud to them.  My daughter enjoyed spelling the words and attempting to read aloud the sentence before it was read to her.

In looking closer, the app provides the parent with two options: phonics or letter names.  The letter names option allows the child to spell the word without the letters already there.  So parents have the option to scaffold the game for their children based on their developmental level.  Additionally, the game provides players with four different levels.  Each level becomes a little harder for the reader.  My daughter played on Level 1.

On Level 2, children have to place the letters in order from left to right (not just from any direction as my daughter had played).  In Level 3, the letter hints are gone and children will have to spell words from the caption.  In Level 4, there are extra letters that aren’t used in the word.

This app is great for your beginning readers.  My daughter is familiar with many sight words already and has shown an interest in reading.  This app reinforces her interest in reading by engaging her in sight word recognition, as well as phonics.  I like the fact that the app changes by level based on a child’s developmental level.

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.