AppStore User Rating:
Curious George and the Birthday Surprise takes a favorite children’s story and adds the power of the iPad to make it shine as an educational experience. Choose from Read to Me or the Read and Talk Level to share the story together, and play with the puppets in the Theater.
- Three reading levels included
- Tips for reading aloud with kids
- Professional narration
- Good explanation of dialogic reading
- Voice recording
Curious George and the Birthday Surprise is a very high-quality app designed with young children in mind. Young users can play independently, or parents can take advantage of the built-in opportunities for parent-child interaction that lays a foundation for reading success. All of the features work smoothly and easily, and the app is very well made. There are three types of activities: a read-to-me option, a parent-child interaction activity, and a creative stage where children can add figures to scenes, act out their own interpretations or stories, and record their creations. Parents will appreciate the high degree of control of the options in the settings section, where they can add their own vocal recordings, modify the reading level, and more.
Curious George and the Surprise Birthday Party really shows the competition how to design an interactive ebook for young children. Developers have embedded “living words” on each page. These highlighted words animate into a key picture that supports comprehension. For example, touching the word “dogs” shows several dogs peeking out from the word and causes the dogs in the illustration to become active. Parents can record their own voices reading the living words, as well. Each page also has one or more hidden animations or sound effects for the young users to explore, and these all support the story well. The sharing questions and comments are available at three levels of difficulty, which will allow the story to grow with your child.
This app gives an incredible amount of support to parents that want to encourage early learning in language and reading skills. Most ebooks for this audience offer a narrated version of the story that children can use independently, and this can help young pre-readers build the connection between printed and spoken words. However, the other two levels to the app offer even more value. Explore the “read and talk” section and you will find countless opportunities to take a little side trip as they discuss the story and illustrations together. Researchers have found that this part of the activity is one of the most valuable that you can do. It encourages language development which is crucial for reading development. There are also some great hints for parents in the Parents’ Section that will help you to adapt these ideas with other books and extend the learning.
Finally, there’s a Theater section where children will delight in free play and self-expression. Children have access to various scenes from the story as well as puppets (stickers) that they can introduce into the scene to retell the story or even to create their own narratives. Best of all, there is a system that will record your child’s voice and the changes to the screen so when everything is done, you end up with a little video! Children are always fascinated with recording themselves, and the video component will make the experience absolutely magical.
Curious George and the Birthday Surprise by iRead With takes a popular children’s book and gives it a technological spin that adds numerous possibilities to the story. This app is sure to be a favorite if your child is already a Curious George fan, and probably even will move miles ahead even if you haven’t shared these stories before. It has all of the features that make ebooks appealing: narration, interactivity, and related activities. The embedded animations are very supportive of the story, so they seem a natural part of the narrative instead of simply being stuck in somewhere because the iPad can show animations. There’s a nice number of them, too. So often the extra animations can become overwhelming or overshadow the story, but this app has a wonderful balance. The Theater also really adds to the entertainment value, especially given the capability to record creations. Children are natural born storytellers, and this will be the perfect outlet.
This app from iRead With is a great value. It’s a favorite story and a delightful, beloved character, and it also includes a ton of tools to help parents lay the foundation for learning to read. The techniques and strategies support learning in countless ways. In other words, you not only get a fun story to share with the kids, you also get a healthy dose of education for adults about how to accomplish your goal of helping your child be successful down the road.
There are no in-app purchases or links to social media. A protected parents’ area contains an email newsletter sign up form, a contact form, and a link to the developers’ website. A protected link on the home page leads to an opportunity to purchase another of the developers’ apps. It is good that these areas are protected, but the gate is not as effective as it could be. Users simply need to hold a button for three seconds, and there is an animated line that fills as the time passes. This could actually encourage children to watch the animation and accidentally achieve access to these protected areas. The Options section is not protected, and has a feature where parents are intended to make personalized recordings of the living words, but a child can easily access this section and erase or record over the parents’ recordings. Older children might even record something inappropriate. Finally, a ratings popup appeared for me at the end of the second level of the Read and Talk section. Ratings truly belong in the protected area, not in the main play area of the app.
Curious George and the Birthday Surprise by iRead With takes advantage of all of the iPad’s features and offers a host of support for parents who want to help their children get ready to read.