Tablet Reading for Kids’ Eyes Only

My family’s move is nearly complete. The boxes are (mostly) unpacked. The cars have (almost) all been purchased. The grill is (sort of) fired up. All in all, the transition has been fairly smooth. Except our kids hate us.

One thing you discover during a move is just how much crap you collect over the years. Good God. Going through all these boxes I feel like we should appear on “Hoarders: Family Edition”.

Our biggest collection of random stuff? Kids Books. It’s incredible how many we have. At last count we have four copies of Good Night Moon, two complete editions of the Nancy Drew series, and every Berenstain Bears book ever written. We even have the paint-by-numbers version of the Unabomber Manifesto. My boy likes the colors.

While throwing away the duplicates, it dawned on me that it doesn’t have to be this way. My kids are addicted to iPads anyway, so why not make a real effort to get them reading on the tablet—where they want to be?

I’m well aware of the dangers here. I fully realize that my 9-year-old will start reading the digital version of 39 Clues and somehow end up playing two hours of Temple Run. But I’m going with it. Meeting them on their chosen platform. And keeping my eyes peeled while I do so.

I did some digging and found several great e-reading platforms for the kids.

 

MeeGenius 

MeeGenius is a great app to get your little ones reading and interacting with books. Setup is simple. Just download the app from iTunes, sign up with email or Facebook, and you’ve got books.

The reader itself is very simple to use. There’s one tab to access your books, and another to access all the books in their library. Books are individually priced, ranging from $1.99 all the way up to $11.99. Most are in the $4 range. MeeGenius lets you sample a few pages from each book before you buy, which is a nice feature.

Books download quickly. You can choose “auto-reader mode” where a soothing voice reads the book so you can ignore your child and check email. This mode also highlights each word, to help more advanced readers follow along. Of course, you can always put down your phone and read the book to your child yourself.

MeeGenius is highly social, too. There’s a great feature where you can start book clubs with fellow parents, all through a simple invitation box. You get $10 in credit for referrals, which is a nice viral incentive.

The best feature is the library. It’s huge. MeeGenius has made deals with most of the big publishers, so you have access to classics and cool, edgy new titles as well. It’s definitely worth a try.

 

Bookboard

Bookboard uses a slightly different model than MeeGenius. It’s a subscription-based service. You pay $4.99 per month if you commit to six months, or $8.99 if you go monthly.

A subscription gets you access to over 300 books with unlimited reading. You can set up separate accounts for up to four kids, with all of their favorites marked. I’m guessing that large Amish families love this feature.

Like MeeGenius, Bookboard lets you download books to your device, in case you’ll be without WiFi at some point. And it has an audiobook feature, though I couldn’t find it in my version.

There are several areas where Bookboard can improve. First, the sign-up and log-in process is messy. And it only works in
Safari.

All in all, not the smoothest way to kick things off. Once you’re in the system, the reader is fine. Books are gorgeous, “swipeable,” and you can tap on words to make them larger and easier to read.

The bigger issue is on the content side. There just aren’t many books available in the trial version to really understand whether the library is large enough to justify
paying for.

 

That’s it for this week—put down the paper and go read a book!

BACK TO Beach Reads

 
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