If you read the Daddy by Default blog on a semi-regular basis (you do right!?) then you know I’m a big fan of educational apps for kids, and ebooks. I write about them often, like in this post about the best apps being ebooks, and this one about the best ipad apps for dads.
But recently, I had a chance to review an ebook for another site and I was blown away by what I saw. It was the ebook version of the famous Dr. Seuss title, “Oh the Thinks You Can Think!” published by Oceanhouse Media, a company which publishes apps that uplift, educate, and inspire. I read the book many years ago and remembered liking it, but the new ebook takes the Dr. Seuss experience to a whole new level, which is why Oceanhouse Media is this week’s Site of the Week.
Anyone who hasn’t had his head in the sand for the past 30 years knows about Dr. Seuss and how cool the books are. But the ebook versions of the Dr. Seuss collection from Oceanhouse Media bring another level of interactivity for you and the kids.
How many of us have sat with our children on the couch or the floor and read a book to them, letting the pages with words and pics face out toward them, and then straining our necks to look around the pages and read the text? Sure, by the 150th time you’ve read that book you have the words memorized and don’t need to actually read. But by that time you’re not really reading the book with the same fervor in your voice. You’re just going through the paces, mouthing the words, and flipping to the next scene once your daughter stops trying to turn to the back page. No doubt she noticies your lack of interest. No more sound effects, no more motions, just dry reading.
With interactive ebooks, most of that work is done for you, and if you do decide to play along, your child can drive the adventure and you can still supplement with fun sounds and additional help reading words.
How Oceanhouse Media Ebooks Work
At first these ebook version looks like a shinier version of the print book. But once you reach the main menu it gets better fast. First, there are three reading methods to choose from:
- Read to Me – the app will read the book aloud to you, and you can turn the pages when you are ready to proceed.
- Read it Myself – The book shows the words on screen, but no audio is offered, you read the book aloud or quietly to yourself.
- Auto Play – the book not only reads the words on screen, but turns the pages for you automatically. This is what I call “babysitter” mode because you can pretty much turn it on and it plays like a movie.
But there’s more – once the books starts, it becomes an interactive paradise for you and your child. Every page features objects your child can touch, after which the word for the object pops up in large, bold letters on screen. The more she touches, the more words pop up. Almost everything on screen is interactive. It’s an amazing visual aid, and a great way to help your child learn how to read through word-picture association. Even if they are crazy Dr. Seuss illustrations that don’t really look like anything else.
- The Berenstain Bears
- Little Critter
- Tacky the Penguin
- Five Little Monkeys
- Enchanted Tales
- Once Upon a Potty
- Spookley the Square Pumpkin
- and books from Hayhouse, Chronicle, and Smithsonian.
Ebook versions of popular classic titles are a fantastic buy for two reasons: They’re less expensive than the print book version, and once you buy them you have access forever.
Ebooks Cost Less than Traditional Print Books
A Traditional Seuss print book, or any children’s print book for that matter, costs approximately $9, as shown in the picture and Amazon.com link to the right (affiliate link). Sure, every now and then you can find a few great kids books on the sale rack at Barnes and Noble or through Scholastic.
Now, if you had traditional print books like this when you were a kid, answer these next two questions honestly:
- Do you still have those books?
- What condition are they in?
I’m willing to bet the answer to the first question is no. But even if you do still have them, I’m also willing to bet the answer to the second question is “not so good!” Consider the alternative – most ebooks for kids, like those from Oceanhouse media, cost $2.99. They are purchased as apps and install right into your device and are accessible immediately and forever.
With the new Apple IOS 5 update, apps you purchase through the Apple App Store will be added to your online collection but don’t count against your storage limits. As your child grows, you can archive the old books to make room on your device for newer, more mature books. And then when you have another child and need the old books again, wammo, you just resync the old book and bring it back to your new device. Amazon and Android both offer similar services with their platforms, the Amazon Cloud Drive and Android Market, respectively.
Of course by that time we’ll probably all have ipad screens digitally embedded in our arms, but the sync feature will probably still work. Right Apple? Seriously, get on that.
Ebooks and Apps for Kids Have Cross Platform Functionality
The OmBooks products from Oceanhouse Media are available through Apple App Store as Ipad apps and Iphone apps; available through the Android Market for your android tablets and phones, and through Amazon for your app enabled Kindle Fire, and your Nook Color.
Which is a Better Educational Tool: Print Books or Ebooks?
This topic is in hot debate right now in university research groups and with parents online. I truly believe the ebook has more educational value than a traditional ebook, especially the interactive ebooks. But I also believe kids need to experience the feel of a traditional print book; and to know how to navigate the library to find one they want, because not every book is available in electronic format yet.
I also believe it doesn’t have to be one or the other. In our house, it’s definitely both. Some parents use their ipad as a toy, and let the kids play games on it. In that way, you might want to restrict how many hours your kids sits glued to the device. But if you use the ipad, or any tablet, as a pure educational tool there’s no reason to put limits on it. If your kid stopped playing with his erector set (do they even still have those?) and sat on the couch with a book, would you tell him after 2 hours – “You know Johnny, you should maybe think about putting that book down and doing something else more educational?” Of course not. Heck, if your kid read a book for more than 10 minutes you’d probably have a heart attack from the sheer surprise.
You can probably tell I’m excited about the Oceahouse media products, but before I close, I want to say that I am not affiliated with Oceahouse media in any way, and was not paid to write this post about their site. I have read several of the OmBooks and have been pleasantly surprised at how much my daughter enjoys “playing” with them.
If you’ve been thinking about introducing your child to some interactive educational apps, I recommend checking out the Oceanhouse Media platform.
And make sure you check back here at Daddy by Default in just a few days because we’re going to be partnering with Oceanhouse Media to do a giveaway. One lucky winner will receive free codes to download 3 interactive kids books. It’s going to be very exciting, and will be posted soon on the Daddy by Default Giveaway Page.
For now, I’d love some reader interaction: Leave a comment below letting everyone know your favorite ebook!