If you haven't discovered the Ruckus Reader series ... you are in for a very big treat! Even with just the free version of all EIGHT of their apps, you will get EIGHT free leveled readers for your child. And these aren't your average leveled readers ... not even close. They are simply the best source for interactive stories designed for specific reading levels on the iPad. Register now for the service and parent info for free for a limited time. Content of this quality will likely not be free indefinitely.
For this app, the Crayola series, you will get one of three possible stories for free in the app. The three stories are for levels 1, 2 & 3, which corresponds to different reading abilities. Level 1 is for Emergent Readers, Level 2 for Beginning Readers and Level 3 for Independent Readers. Each of the choices for the Crayola books has a similar structure, with a story you first create and then can re-read. At the end of the story readers are asked to match the accessories to the right character. I found the distinction between 'hat' and 'cap' a bit confusing as well as the way the pictures must be released directly over the text rather restrictive (so putting the 'cap' on the head of the right character shows as wrong), but otherwise this was a fun aspect of this reader series.
I would also expect that over time, having only one title under each level per series would be considerably less content than a young reader would need. Even if they read all eight 'level one' titles, that is far fewer leveled readers for an "emergent reader", for instance, than you would want if substituting digital for print, given the variety and volume of leveled readers available in most public libraries. These titles, however, are extremely engaging and may be especially useful for reluctant or struggling readers.
During the stories, the interactive elements are very tailored to early learning and literacy needs of young children. A pop-up appears within the story asking the reader to find hidden items, then color them for inclusion in the story the child is creating. This makes for a nearly endless number of ways the story is told. Once a story is created, the child can then read that version again, with the objects they chose appearing in the story. When the child taps this object, like a purple carrot, it then shows the name. Details like this are found on every page, making this series not only fun but educational for kids. These books are also intuitively designed in a way that makes it easy to set a child up and let them use the app alone, something useful to know for schools considering this series.
My only caution is that there are many links that leave the app, accessible easily to children reading, even when you select the child's profile rather than that of 'parent'. But other than this concern, the Ruckus Reader series, all eight of them, are highly recommended, covering engaging topics and characters like Chuck & Friends, the Sea World collection, Transformers, My Little Pony, Rabbit Ears as well as a Classic & Premium Bookshelf. You can find all of these free apps under the 'other versions' tab of this review. The subscription, to access not just one but all of the books in each of these series, is just $24.99 for a 6 month subscription. Considering that these are great titles that most children will grow out of in a year or two, this would be a reasonable investment for parents, especially if Ruckus continues to add new titles to each of these apps.
Once inside any of the apps, it should also be noted that you can access the whole collection once you have a subscription and get detailed reports about what your child has been reading (and more) every week. I found this feature very interesting and informative, discovering that my son likes the Transformer series a lot more than I thought. The free registration gives a snapshot of this data that is also useful. Given that all of these apps can be sampled with a single, high-quality title absolutely free first, I consider this an easy recommendation - download them all and if you like these new, digital leveled readers for your child, the subscription will be well worth the cost!
The bookshelf apps are available now for free in the iTunes App Store when you download a classic bookshelf, and then $3.99 per additional title; $5.99 per digital bookshelf; or $24.99 for a six month subscription of unlimited access. Parents can create up to four accounts with the subscription, each with their own library of books customized for each child.
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Ruckus Media Group
12 - 20 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: No
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 3 - 6
There are 3 books in the Crayola series at this time.
1) Caterpillar's Colors - Level 1 - A caterpillar eats many delicious and multicolored foods before cocooning into a butterfly.
2) Picture Day - Level 2 - All the animals need something nice to wear for picture day ... pick from an assortment of accessories for each character and color each one 9 primary colors from the Crayola box.
3) Find That Dragon! - Level 3 - Two children in a medieval world are hunting a dragon. They search far and wide, finding lots of clues to help them track the creature.