May 4, 2012
Review: PlayTales eReader App
By Derek Walter for RedOrbit.com
As books for children increasingly move to mobile devices and tablets, PlayTales is an intriguing option for parents looking to get their child hooked on reading. PlayTales is available for iPad, iPhone, Android devices and Windows Phone.
PlayTales acts as an eReader and bookstore all from within the app. Kids and parents get a virtual bookshelf, much like the book storage in iBooks, that can hold a large number of interactive picture books.
The books are designed to be touched, flicked, and manipulated. It especially works well on an iPad, where a child can experiment with the various objects around the screen with their finger.
The books have various options for reading: autoplay, read by myself, or read to me. The “read to me” feature includes both a fairly pleasant voice and many sound effects to illuminate the story.
An older child may wish to just read the story to themselves. By doing so they can take their time exploring all the content inside of each book. However, a small child might need assistance with turning the page, as it is not done with a swipe. Depending on how the book was formatted, moving on to the next page may be accomplished through touching one of the icons on the screen.
The sample toy is a piano, which could be just as much fun for the adults in the house. Head to the store for others, although at this time there is a much smaller selection of toys. If it is any consolation, it does include the iconic stacker toy.
There are plenty of options for books, however. Scrolling through them is much like shopping the App Store for new apps or the iBookstore for reading material. Each book has stats for ratings and how many have downloaded it.
Keep an eye on the News tab for specials and new releases. Such items are updated regularly.
One of the more important custom options is one that lets parents activate a purchase block that will keep their child from going crazy with mom´s credit card.
One strength of PlayTales is that the book is not where the activity ends. Each of the books offer games, such as finding the difference between various versions of the same page, coloring, puzzles, or finding hidden objects.
While navigation through the books is fairly smooth, getting back to the home screen could be a little cumbersome for a young child. Doing so requires a double tap on a multi-star icon on the top right of the screen. Once you figure that out, it´s pretty easy to maneuver, but some children may have a hard time finding it at first.
PlayTales has even caught the attention of NBA player Pau Gasol. The Los Angeles Lakers player released an eBook through PlayTales called Give a Day. The book, which costs $1.99, profits Gasol´s UNICEF initiatives in Ethiopia and other regions. His work has supported the education of over 12,000 children in Ethiopia, according to a release from PlayTales.
While the majority of children´s eBooks are headed to the dominant platforms of the Nook, Kindle, or iBooks, there are several options that parents and children may find worth exploring.