Reviewed by Mary
Reading Rainbow is a very familiar name to a generation of American parents who grew up watching the iconic PBS show. For 26 years Reading Rainbow encouraged children to read, and now it is back on our screens – this time as an iPad app. LeVar Burton, who hosted the show, is also back as the host and co-producer of the app. The app is aimed at children from 3-9 years of age and you can create a personal profile for them – including age, gender and interests, allowing the app to personalize the book recommendations to suit the child. When you first open the app you are greeted by LeVar who introduces you and your child to the app through a short video presentation. As well as books, the app contains a series of “video field trips” these are short video clips on a whole host of topics from animals through friends and family, pirates, and more. Some are classic clips from the T.V. series and others are new videos made for the app.
When viewing the app it looks like you are viewing an old-fashioned T.V. screen, with a curved surround and a group of big buttons on the bottom. There are five buttons – one switches the sound on and off, the next contains the video clips, then the magic islands, the sticker book (the child earns stickers for reading books) and finally the child profile. In the main area there are a series of themed islands floating in the air- including Genius Academy, Animal Kingdom, Action, Adventures & Magical Tales and My Family, My Friends. Touching an island will take you to it’s library.
Each library contains all the books and videos in that land, books include both fiction and non-fiction titles from leading publishers such as Kane Press, Sleeping Bear Press and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Books that are recommended for the child are marked with a red ribbon. Touching the book takes you to it’s cover and a brief synopsis of the story, you can then choose whether or not to get the book. With the free app you can explore the islands, watch the videos, and download one story of your choice. To get access to the entire book library you need to subscribe. Inside the book you can choose read to me or read it yourself options. The narration is done by professional actors. When it is being read the entire block of text is enlarged and highlighted, but there is not individual word highlighting. Each story has interactive elements, and a spinning circle shows the child where to touch to activate them. After the story is over, the child can also choose to play a related game e.g. a matching game with pictures from the story. Once the child has read a story they can keep it in their backpack. The backpack is a bookshelf to hold the child’s current favorite books for easy access – they can keep a maximum of five books in it at a time, and can return them to the library to make room for new books. Books in the backpack can be accessed even when you are offline. Each island contains a large collection of books at different reading levels. The app currently contains 150 books and 16 video field trips, with new ones being added regularly. Once they have subscribed, parents can also go to the Reading Rainbow website to see what books their children have been reading, how much time they have been spending reading and even gets hints on how to get them reading more in other areas.
This app has a large library of good quality children’s books and the narration is well done. Including the video clips is a nice touch and brings back some of the feel of the T.V. show. I’m sure seeing LeVar host it will bring back a flood of childhood memories for many people. One additional feature I would like to see added is a label showing the reading level on the front cover of the books. At the moment you can only make one child profile, but the developers are working to add more, which will be a nice update. They are also working on an Android version of the app. The app is targeted at 3-9 year olds, and I would say that is accurate from the current book selections. I like that it includes non-fiction as well as fiction titles. If you remember Reading Rainbow from your childhood, I would strongly recommend downloading the Reading Rainbow app not only for a trip down memory lane, but also for the opportunity to see if it will get your children hooked on reading too. If you are new to Reading Rainbow, then it’s a great time to get acquainted. With the launch of this app Reading Rainbow continues to help a whole new generation of children to fall in love with reading.
by Reading Rainbow
Category: Education, Books
Requirements: Compatible with iPadMini4G, iPadThirdGen4G, iPadMini, iPad 2 3G, iPad WiFi, iPadFourthGen, iPadThirdGen, iPadFourthGen4G, iPad 3G, iPad 2 WiFI
Size: 139.23 MB
The app is free to download, but to fully access its contents there is a monthly subscription fee of $9.99 or a you can get a six month subscription for $29.99
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