Sesame Street enters the Technology Storybook Playground
I have always stuck with traditional print books when it came time to reading to my children (they range in age from 2-6 yrs) despite having an array of choices. It wasn’t for any particular reason, I just never explored my options. Until now.
A couple weeks back, I was invited to Sesame Street’s Tech Storybook Playground event where they introduced several of their new digital platforms for books. Despite selling 22.5 million print books last year, like many other companies, Sesame Street is also trying to keep up with the pace of the growing digital world. And from what I’ve seen, I think they’re doing a wonderful job.
Here are a few product highlights:
LeapFrog’s Tag Junior Book Pals: The Tag Junior Reading System is geared for kids 2-4 years old. The Book Pals (retails for $34.99) are great (and fun to use) for tiny hands. When you place the Book Pal over the text, it will read what’s on the page. Place it over various objects on the page and you’ll hear different sound effects, encouraging your child to explore. Before using, you have to download the audio for the stories through LeapFrog’s website (up to 5 stories can be stored). Currently, LeapFrog offers 3 Sesame Street books: Monster Faces, Cookie’s First Book of Numbers and Big Bird’s First Book of Letters (each retailing for $10.99).
Publications International’s My Poingo Interactive Reader: I liked this product because each storybook comes with a cartridge so you’re ready to read as soon as you open up the box! My Poingo is a point-and-go interactive reader, designed for kids 3 and older. The My Poingo Interactive Reader with Sesame Street Storybook retails for $29.95; the system you see in the photo that includes 3 books retails for $39.95 on Publications International’s website (storybooks alone retail for $9.95). With My Poingo, you’re learning pronunciation, vocabulary, letter shapes and reading skills.
Findaway World’s Playaway All-in-One Audiobooks: I think this product is PERFECT for road trips! I don’t really allow my children to read or play games (iPod, NintendoDS, etc.) while the car is on the road so when I saw this product, I fell in love. These digital audio books are actually geared towards schools and libraries (next time you’re at your local library, check to see if they carry Playaway audio books!); the Sesame Street collections include high-interest preschool topics like animals, school, fairy tales, friends, milestones, play, and being healthy. Audio books are great as a product by itself (fun narration, original music) or as an accompaniment to print books. There are currently 7 Sesame Street collections, each with 2-4 audio books.
ScrollMotion’s Storybook Apps: The “classic” storybook apps are available on iTunes for the iPhone and iPod Touch (iPad coming soon) for $1.99. There are 7 Sesame Street stories, narrated by either Sesame Street’s Chris or yourself. That’s right, yourself! The coolest feature of this app is that you can record your own narration, page by page, and it’s really easy to do. ScrollMotion also developed 3 “Bert & Ernie’s Great Adventures” Claymation stories for Sesame Street (featuring text highlighting and coloring activities) and is also available on iTunes for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch for $2.99 and Google Chrome web store for $1.99.
Callaway Digital Arts’ The Monster at the End of this Book app: This application features classic Grover narration and animation that resembles the original art from the book. There is also character touch interaction, text highlighting, parent tips and a personalized bookplate. This unique app will really engage your child. If I could only pick one app to download, I would choose this one. It’s available on iTunes for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch for $3.99.
Impelsys’ eBookstore: For a mere $3.99/monthly or $39.99/annually, you can subscribe to the user-friendly eBookstore and access over 150 Sesame Street titles that include regular eBooks, as well as audio, interactive and animated eBooks. There is also an eBookstore app for the iPad only (same subscription fees as the website) that offer the same access to all the titles. Once you’re subscribed and choose the titles you want to read, it’s easy to sort through your bookshelf – simple for your kids to navigate through, too!
VTech’s V.Reader: The V.Reader Interactive e-Reading System retails for $59.99 and works well for kids 3-7 years of age; 8 downloadable books (more are in development) are available through the VTech Kids website for $4.99. The system features reading games, story dictionary and text highlighting. This is also a very interactive system, full of different opportunities for your child to learn. I love the way the stories come alive – it really captured the attention of my 2 older kids, encouraging them to read and learn new vocabulary words in a fun way.
Moving Picture Books’ Animated Books: Available for computer and various mobile platforms for $1.99, Moving Picture Books developed 6 best-selling print titles that feature fully animated stories with narration, music and sound effects; they are curricular-based (ABCs, numbers, healthy habits, etc.) and offer text highlighting.
I love that Sesame Street offers so many options for the emerging reader who wants something beyond print books. Not every child learns the same way so there’s plenty of options to choose from to engage your child and to help build that solid foundation for a lifetime love for reading. For more information about Sesame Street, please visit their website.
Disclosure: I received product samples for review purposes only. No compensation was given for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.