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Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2015

Read Me Stories - Children's books

Good reading support marred by navigation issues, ho-hum stories

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts

  • Character & SEL
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: The variety of voice options and reading supports are great for beginning readers.

Cons: Poor-quality language and story lines don't do justice to the magic and sophistication of reading.

Bottom Line: These ebooks may offer enough support for kids working on the mechanics of reading, but watch out for navigation pitfalls and uninspired books.

Read Me Stories - Children's books could be a daily classroom routine -- until the books run out, that is. For a short reading unit, teachers could present one installment per day of the Tuffy series in "read to me" mode for the whole class. After each story, kids can respond with stories of their own; predictions about what will happen next; research into fantasy tales, castles, and the like; and so on. Kids could also read on their own, but a teacher will need to stay nearby, as kids often get stuck needing a grown-up to unlock the screen and approve or turn down purchasing more stories. There is an option for grown-ups to unlock all purchased stories so kids can read as many as they want. This could be a good option for teachers who want to let kids have more autonomy in choosing books.

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Editor's Note: Read Me Stories - Children's books is no longer available.

Read Me Stories - Children's books is a collection of original digital storybooks. Books are categorized into various series such as Tales of Adventure, Animals, or an ongoing fantasy saga about a pony named Tuffy. Kids can read on their own or be read to, and some books have a few simple interactive features. Every day that kids open the app, a new book unlocks (though parents also can manually unlock books). Some series of books are free; others include one preview book with the rest available for purchase.

Read Me Stories - Children's books has great reading support: Before starting each book, kids choose whether they want to read on their own or be read to. All choices are voiced so prereaders can navigate easily. While the narrator reads, words are highlighted in the text so kids can follow along. Once in the Read on My Own mode, kids can always tap an icon to have individual pages read to them. Plus, high-quality narration, music, and sound effects make the stories come alive.

Unfortunately, the stories themselves disappoint. The language, vocabulary, and dialogue are mediocre, and the story lines are uninspired (with a possible exception for the Tuffy series, which is somewhat silly in its approach to fantasy but does manage to hold your interest). And though nothing is inappropriate, some aspects are even downright objectionable. Above all, navigation can be tricky and frustrating. There are no exit buttons once you're in a story; at the end of each story kids must get a grown-up to unblock the screen; and there's lots of content that's tantalizingly visible but only available through purchasing. This digital library may get kids to read a book a day, but what they're reading may be more filler than enrichment.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Some books are more engaging and visually appealing than others. The ongoing series is the best bet to capture kids' interest. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Kids read on their own or follow the highlighted text as a narrator reads aloud. One book is unlocked per day to encourage kids to read one new book every day. Some navigation and interface features could distract.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

If kids choose to read on their own, they always have the option of hearing a page read aloud. They also can have the whole story read to them. Additional navigation buttons would improve the user experience.

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