Rosalie is a big fan of books; we have read to her from birth and I am a massive advocate for books and the role they play in early speech and language development.
We take regular trips to the library, and Rosalie has many of her own books, on shelves in her bedroom, and distributed around the other rooms of the house! Every night we find her with books in her bed where she has fallen asleep ‘reading’!
Although she definitely has her favourite books – Teddy Robinson and Miffy for two – she does love new stories, and sometimes getting out to the library just isn’t possible, especially when you’re 41+2 weeks pregnant.
So I was more than thrilled when eBookadabra got in touch to ask if we would like to give their app a try. It provides children aged three to seven with access to hundreds of stories as well as literacy learning activities.
After downloading the app onto our iPad there were a few setup steps that took around five minutes to complete – you set up a family profile, then you can add children so that they each have their own area, and finally you register with eBookadabra. Rosalie enjoyed choosing a character and theme for her ‘room’ – the area where all her books will be stored within the app.
Once we were in, we browsed through the classic stories section and Rosalie was excited to see Winnie the Pooh, so she chose that book first. We imported the book into her room (you need an internet connection for this, but once books are downloaded they’re available offline) and then I selected the option to have the book read aloud.
As Rosalie is only just three, she obviously isn’t reading yet, so having the option for a story to be read aloud to her is perfect, and you can choose whether the pages turn automatically or if your child turns them themselves. For me, this feature is brilliant. I love looking at real books with Rosalie, but the advantage of eBookadabra is that she could have a story read to her whilst I was cooking dinner, or if we were in the car, or on the train (with headphones).
Choosing a new book is easy – there are categories to browse and a search function where you can find books featuring your favourite characters, or certain animals, for example.
Literacy learning activities
When your child reads books with eBookadabra they build up reading energy, earn stickers and unlock games. Games can only be played when there is enough reading energy, which is a good incentive for older children to read more, but was perhaps a little frustrating for my toddler. Rosalie did enjoy getting a sticker for finishing a book though! See the excitement!
Rosalie’s favourite game was tracing letters. She enjoys doing this on laminated sheets with dry wipe pens, so I knew it would be a hit! The difficulty level seemed about right for her at 37 months old.
Other games include jigsaw puzzles, pairs, initial letters matching and magic painting.
What we most liked
- The great mix of stories, from classic tales to modern characters.
- When you choose ‘read aloud’ the words are highlighted.
- You can opt to have the pages turn automatically, or not, when the book is being read to you.
- The search engine function which makes it easy to find books by character, theme etc.
- Once you’ve downloaded a book to the iPad you can read it offline, which is useful for travelling.
- The literacy learning activities, especially tracing letters.
What we were less keen on
- Not all the books have the ‘read aloud’ function, and we found it was not obvious which books these were.
- We couldn’t find a way to force the app to retain the settings, so each time Rosalie chose a new book I had to select the ‘audio on’ and ‘auto page turn’ buttons.
- The timer on the games – even the easiest difficulty level didn’t give Rosalie enough time on some of the games, which was frustrating for her, and she was then upset by the ‘you lose ‘ alert too.
- The app is currently only available on iOS, but there is an android version in development.
eBookadabra is a really nicely designed app with a good library of stories. The reward system seems like a great way to get kids reading and enjoying stories as well as learning through literacy games.
For me personally, with Rosalie being only just three, I would still prefer to sit with her and read a ‘real’ book, but for times when I can’t be doing that, for example when I’m making the dinner or we’re travelling in the car, looking at books on eBookadabra is a great way to keep her occupied.
The number of books with audio doesn’t seem to be too vast, which also limits the apps use for pre-readers such as Rosalie. But for those learning to read or already proficient, I think eBookadabra would be a brilliant and engaging tool.
You can download eBookadabra from the App Store for 99p, and a subscription costs £5.99 a month, but you can try it before you buy it with a 30 day free trial.
Rosalie – 37 months
*We received a 3 month free trial of ebookadabra and additional compensation in exchange for an honest review of the app. All words and opinions are my own. Read my full blog disclosure.