Posts Tagged ‘audio books for kids’

My Living Stories Interactive E-Books for Kids

I’m no slouch when it comes to exposing my kids to technology. I think it can be a great tool in entertaining and educating kids. I’m also a big fan of children’s books which is one reason why I review great printed books each Wednesday as part of Write a Review Wednesday.

So I was excited when Mom Central Canada gave me the chance to try My Living Stories, an interactive e-book for kids that works on your iPhone and iPod Touch (and iPad as we discovered when we experimented with the app).

My Living Stories are interactive stories based on childhood classic tales like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood, Tortoise and the Hare, King Midas and Princess and the Pea.

Now e-books on the iPhone aren’t new, we have a few and my kids, especially my 3-year-old, love them. They are great when we’re on a road trip, waiting in the Doctor’s office or out doing grocery shopping. My Living Stories are easy to navigate and offer subtle animation and sound throughout the story to entertain kids. They are a simple page forward, page back format so there’s no worries about kids, especially young kids, getting confused or needing mom’s assistance to use the app. But the best feature about My Living Stories, what makes it stand out from other e-books, is that you can record your own narration, right on your iPhone!

Each story, which you can buy at the iTunes store for $1.99 Cdn, comes already narrated with a young child’s voice. Readers can choose to listen to the narration, listen with just the music so they can read the story themselves or read recorded narration, recorded by you or grandma or the babysitter or anyone your child would enjoy hearing the story being read from.

My 3-year-old loves hearing stories from her older 8-year-old sister so I had my oldest daughter record a story (she loved doing it). The steps are easy and can be done right on your iPhone (no need to download separate software and copy things from your computer). Just choose record and you’re set. You record each page separately and you can hear your recording after you’re done in case you want to record it again. My 8-year-old loved this. She was able to do this on her own and even added in her own sound-effects as she went along. You can record up to 4 different narrations of the same story so your child can choose from a story being read to them by mom or dad or grandma or big sister. And even though it’s the same story, each narration offers a unique feel adding extra life to the story itself.

My 3-year-old enjoyed hearing her sister reading the book and loved the little animations. We have an iPad so the story fills the screen, almost like a book in her lap, but using My Living Stories on the iPhone would be just as enjoyable and easy to use too. My 3-year-old picked up the navigation quickly and loved listening to the different audio voices. She now wants to record her own voice.

There are a lot of iPhone apps out there for kids but ones I really enjoy are the ones that make use of the iPhones technology. Having the ability to record and edit a stories narration is an amazing idea. The only issue I found with My Living Stories was the placement of the text to read when recording the story. The text appears plain, along the bottom of the page, like a script, which is fine since it’s just there for you to read. But the some words were covered by the page forward, page back arrows. At times we were guessing what the words were since we couldn’t read them. This could be a little frustrating for the person making the recording.

ITUNE GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY

The folks at Mom Central Canada and My Living Stories are so excited about their new interactive e-books for kids that they’re offering up a gift card giveaway to my blog readers. That’s you! Simply tell me which 1 of the 5 My Living Stories e-books you think your child would enjoy and who would they like to hear narrate it for them. By telling me that you’ll be entered for a chance to win one (1) $25 iTunes Gift Card (which can now be used to buy apps). Leave your comment before August 6 because after that I will be choosing one name randomly. Participants are more then welcome to enter this giveaway on other blogs (there will be a few running this same contest), however, you can only win 1 iTunes gift card. And sorry, this contest is only open to Canadian residents.

I am participating in the My Living Stories program by Mom Central on behalf of Decode Entertainment. I received 3 free apps an da gift card as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Write a Review Wednesday: Listen-Along Storybooks

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Groundwood Books’ I Know Here (age 4-7) written by Laurel Croza and illustrated by Matt James. This week things are a little different. We’re actually looking at a new program launched by Sterling Publishing called Listen-Along Storybooks. We reviewed this new feature with the book Ceasar Takes a Break (age 4-7 ), written by Susan Collins Thoms and illustrated by Roge. I have to thank Wendy at Sterling Publishing for my review copy.

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Sterling Children’s Books is known for publishing amazing books, some we’ve had the chance to review and some we plan to review in the future. But this month, Sterling Children’s Books has launched a new program: Listen-Along Storybooks.

By visiting the website www.listenalongstorybook.com, visitors will be able to listen to a FREE audiobook of some of Sterling Children’s Books most popular titles. Currently there are eight titles included: Cesar Takes a Break, Cowboy Camp, I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track, Perfectly Arugula, Jack and the Beanstalk, Tex and Sugar, We Go Together, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Visitors can select the book they want to listen to or they can download the file to an MP3 player and take it wherever they go. The story can be listened to on it’s own or with the corresponding book. We were sent a copy of Cesar Takes a Break to try out the Listen-Along Storybook program. It was so easy to download the audio on my iPhone. No passwords or multiple steps; find the story you want to here and ‘click’ it’s playing or saved, whatever you prefer.

The kids enjoyed listening to the audio book of Cesar Takes a Break while we flipped the pages. They enjoyed hearing the different voices, a task that even I’m not very good at. Robert Agis who read Cesar, the main character, was great and really added emotion to the words he was reading (he’s also your host in the ‘How Cesar Takes a Break Audiobook was Made’ video below). My seven-year old also enjoyed just listening to the story on it’s own, without the book. One thing I noticed, unlike other audio books, there isn’t a tone to turn the page if your child is following along. This wasn’t an issue for us since I was reading the book with my kids.

I love that the audio stories add another element to an already enjoyable book. You can read the story, look at the book with the audio, or just listen to the audio; you have that much flexibility. Yes, you can download the audio without having the books but I think you’ll find having the pictures in front of you adds so much more to the experience.

Take a behind the scenes peek at what goes into making the audio for one of the Listen-Along Storybooks (specifically Cesar Takes a Break):

A GIVEAWAY JUST FOR YOU

To help kick off the launch of the Listen-Along Storybook program, Sterling Children’s Books are offering to give three (3) of my readers a copy of all eight (8) storybooks currently included in the Listen-Along Storybook program. How fun would that be, listening to the FREE audiobooks while reading along with eight of Sterling Children’s Books most popular reads. The eight books included would be: Cesar Takes a Break, Cowboy Camp, I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track, Perfectly Arugula, Jack and the Beanstalk, Tex and Sugar, We Go Together1, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

To enter, leave a comment below telling me which of the eight books you think your kids would want to listen to first. This contest is open to both Canadian and US residents but get your entry in before March 24. After that date I’ll be randomly picking three winners.

Update: Thanks to everyone for entering. Winners have been notified by email.