So, we launched Hopscotch last week, and it’s been quite a ride since. It’s been downloaded more than 20,000 times, we cracked the Top 10 iPad Education apps, and were featured in New and Noteworthy on the App Store. After the initial press we got all sorts of other great coverage on various ed tech blogs. We’ve had folks volunteering to translate it into nine different languages. We’ve had some totally awesome projects sent to us by parents and kids. And perhaps most importantly, we’ve begun our process of refining our feature set based on real data and feedback.
I’ve struggled for a long time to find the best apps for my daughter in overcrowded and badly sorted app marketplaces. To help our readers both share and discover better digital content for kids, I’ve started our growing Recommended Apps for Kids directory.
To share an app, fill out our simple form below. Once you complete it, your app suggestion will be stored in our growing database of great apps for kids. We will use this directory to plan features and share new digital tools with our readers.
You can also download an Excel version of the directory to sort the results for yourself. I’ve added a few of my favorite apps for kids to get things started. What’s your favorite app for kids?
After Reading Rainbow was cancelled in 2009, the show’s host, LeVar Burton knew he had to do something to save the brand. So, he and his business partner, Mark Wolfe, bought the rights to the name, launched a new company, RRKidz, and created the Reading Rainbow app featuring over 150 books, video field trips and classic clips from the TV show.
And Burton says that, at $9.99 for a month or $29.99 for six months, their app is a real steal.
“Now, when you look at that, that breaks down to $5 a month. You can spend more than $5 on a single children’s app. We were looking for a solution for families that made economic sense. It’s the wild west, you know? We are all making it up as we go along,” he said in our Media Beat interview. “We have value, a product that is of value for families, that is economic and full of the kind of enriching content that the brand, Reading Rainbow, has always been known for.”
Part 1: LeVar Burton: ‘Cutting down trees to make books is not sustainable’
Part 3: Wednesday, we discuss Burton’s role in Roots and how he achieved longevity in Hollywood.
It’s true, TV is not good for you. According to a new study, children who watch SpongeBob Squarepants for brief periods of time perform worse in school than children who do not.
The LA Times has the story: “Immediately after their viewing and drawing tasks were complete, the kids were asked to perform four tests to assess executive function. Unfortunately for the denizens of Bikini Bottom, the kids who watched nine minutes of the frenetic high jinks of the ‘animated sponge’ scored significantly worse than the other kids.”
Children’s books and kids book apps, on the other hand, will probably make your kids smarter.
Open Road Integrated Media has teamed up with Canadian children’s publisher Kids Can Press to publish digital versions of the Franklin in the Dark series of digitally.
Under the terms of the partnership, Open Road will digitally publish 25 Franklin the Turtle titles including the 25th anniversary edition of Franklin in the Dark. The eBooks will go on sale on May 17th.
Open Road’s CEO Jane Friedman, (former CEO of Harper Collins), spoke to NPR today about the digital publishing company’s take on the future of publishing. She told NPR: “‘I am very happy not to be sitting as the CEO of Harper Collins, because as the CEO of a legacy publishing company, you are the CEO of basically two companies: one is physical and one is digital.’”
Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation are making free digital books accessible to kids online, and then giving away print books to other kids when someone reads the digital ones. They’re calling the new initiative We Give Books. It was <a href="unveiled this morning with the goal of getting more books into the hands of impoverished children.
In the an official announcement, Mark Nieker, the president of the Pearson Foundation, said: “The free website gives parents, caregivers, and educators immediate access to a growing digital library of children’s books from DK and from Penguin Group. For each book read online at www.wegivebooks.org, the Pearson Foundation–working together with a growing list of great non-profit organizations–will donate a brand new hardcover or paperback book to a child in need. ”
Here’s more from GalleyCat: “The U.S. launch today will kick off with a four-city tour by the Rock Bottom Remainders, a sort of supergroup band that includes Mitch Albom, Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Amy Tan, Scott Turow, and Roy Blount, Jr. The first concert is this evening in Washington, D.C. They play in New York on Friday.”
As the publishing industry builds an eBook infrastructure, many readers hope to see their favorite books resurrected digitally. With the iPad and smartphone readers, out-of-print kid’s books could be revived in glorious color.
Over at GalleyCat Reviews, we featured a new curated list from Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations: 10 Out-of-Print Children’s Books Worth Overpaying For.
The complete list (created by Burgin Streetman) is posted at GalleyCat. Here’s more from the 10 Out-of-Print Children’s Books Worth Overpaying For list: “There are some books I would chop off my right arm for (and have… stops to wave with stump). These guys are the endangered species of the children’s book world, dwindling down, sale by sale… until… Get them now before they are gone forever, my friends.”
Today is Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss. To celebrate, Oceanhouse Media, the app developer with the exclusive deal to develop iPhone and iPod Touch apps based on Seuss books, is dropping the price of its Seuss apps for one day only, and that day is today.
Normally the eBook apps cost $3.99, but today Oceanhouse has lobbed $3.00 off the price tag, so you can snag a cheap and educational distraction for your little one for only $.99. No more letting your three-year old play Grand Theft Auto in the supermarket.
Oceanhouse currently has eBook apps in the app store for three Seuss titles: The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss’s ABCs, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. All of these apps feature read-aloud tracks and various touch features.
The other day we told you about Fisher-Price’s iXL, an iPad for kids–it’s an app-based computer for kids, including a children’s eBook app. Lots of readers responded to the news in the eBN comments and on Twitter, and we wanted to share some of their responses.
First, one reader, Michael Hochman, wasn’t slow on the uptake like this blogger (who said he didn’t like or understand the name “iXL” and pointed out the intelligence behind the product’s name: “What’s wrong with iXL? It’s clever (‘I excel’)” Oooooh. Of course.
Then, another reader posting as “Love The Cool: A Digital Life” either expressed that she would be buying an iXL for someone in her family because she’s had good experiences with this type of product, or won’t, because she already has something better: “My iPhone is the sitter for my 6 yr old nephew-educational apps and he figured out the multi-touch immediately.”
On Twitter, @JodyRobbins pointed out that Mattel, the company behind Fisher-Price and the iXL, is creating early adopters of future tech: “Leave no prospective lifelong customers alone.” @Nancybartels recalls a simpler time: “‘Member when Fisher-Price meant those funny round peg people & the play airport?” Finally, @cbaccus is skipping right over this kiddie toy for her little ones: “My 4 yr olds need the Apple apps and wifi so we’re going real iPad.”
There’s something surreal about the image above–it’s Mattel CEO Bob Eckert unveiling the Fisher-Price iXL, an app-powered tablet for preschoolers. Do preschoolers need an app-powered tablet? Apparently they do now. Here are some details from Mattel:
“iXL Learning System is a child’s portable window to a whole new world of learning and entertainment with six great applications: Story Book, Game Player, Note Book, Art Studio, Music Player and Photo Album. iXL, which is PC and MAC compatible, features an SD card slot for expanded memory and comes with a USB cord to connect to the computer. A software management CD enables users to add their own photos and songs (MP3s and WMAs). iXL can also store multiple software titles, songs and pictures with no cartridges needed. iXL will be available in July 2010 for approximately $79.99; licensed software CDs will also be available, sold separately for $24.99.”
Will the Story Book app feature all kinds of kids eBooks? We’ll investigate. And where do they get these names? iXL? Shouldn’t it be called something friendlier, like CompuBug or something?
What’s next? An iPad for dogs (featuring the controversial introduction of iBones)? A touchscreen bubble-counter for fish? When will the future get over itself and leave us alone?
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