Curious George and the Firefighters by TribalNova is a universal app for iOS which features George and the man with the yellow hat on a trip to the firehouse. In this adapted app for iOS, this animated story features three options, a “listen”, “read and talk” and then “theater”. One of the features of the app is iReadWith which is designed to help with language development and help preschoolers learn to read using a shared reading activity which encourages readers to talk and participate using a prompt which encourages questions to help better understand the story as well as demonstrate understanding of the story by being an active versus passive participant.
iRead With is based on a shared shared reading method developed in conjunction with McGill University Child Phonology Lab. The book features a number of settings including reading level, language (English, French or Spanish), ability to record “living words” which allows the words when touched in the story to be heard in a parents or child’s voice using the iPad microphone, limited ability to personalize as well as reading tips for parents. George manages to get in trouble in the story as he often does by trying on the fireman’s clothing and then all of a sudden the fire alarm goes off and none of the equipment is where it is supposed to be. Skills developed in the app include: speech and language, vocabulary, phonological awareness, emergent literacy concepts, narrative skills and comprehension strategies.
The listen mode reads the story page by page without word highlighting, but it does have the “living words” in a color and when touched you can either hear the recording or see a specific animation. The “read and talk” allows you to choose avatars which represent parent and child and then prompts you to record the living words although you can skip this step. It also provides information on how to read the story including hints for parents, how to use the living words, and the ability to touch the page for animations. When living words are tapped, a question pops up using the parent avatar and then the child avatar has to think of an answer, there is a pause to allow your child to think of the answer as well. Questions are easy for children to answer like, “Who is in the firetruck” – the child avatar will then show a fireman in the photo. Throughout the story, if you tap on the photos where there is a red circle, there is an animation. The theater lets you use puppets and create your own animated stories bringing the book further to life.
My favorite portion of the app was the “read and talk” as it encouraged my son to be an active listener and had to answer questions as the story was read to him. It forced him to listen carefully and follow along with the questions, even though the story was familiar. As his reading level increases I can increase the level of the story which prompts additional questions and comprehension activities. Having animations to tap on and using the parent driven “read and talk” is a huge point of differentiation for this app versus more traditional book apps which just “read” the story rather than require you to interpret it. This brings reading and comprehension to a whole new level. The photos in the story make it interesting for kids and can help them think about what the text should be.
In terms of improvements, it would be nice if there were avatars for multiple children or you had the ability to upload photos of the parent and child, currently it only shows one child who is answering questions. A list of the common words in the story would be helpful as you can practice them ahead of time with your child, I went through the app and made a list and then when reading it with my son sounded out each of the sight words to encourage him to read.
Summary, a great way to work on comprehension and reading skills with your emerging reader. This book which features “read and talk” involves parents/caregivers with the child or children and encourages them to comprehend the text while listening to a story that is familiar with a plot that has twists and turns yet is familiar enough that they will engage and enjoy the story. This app could revolutionize how iOS apps read to children evolve in the future.
This app has been thoroughly evaluated by our staff. Please click on the 'star ratings' tab above, to see how it fared in all nine of our rating categories. See synopsis tab for more details about the storyline.
This review was originally published by TheiMums.com on May 29, 2014. The iMums – Amanda, Alison, Mary and Grace – are four mothers from different parts of the world dedicated to educating parents about the best digital stories, educational apps, fun games and technology products available for their children.
Founded in August 2011, the four iMums have 11 kids among them ranging in age from 1 to 17 and bring a global perspective to their app reviews. The original iMum Amanda being from Australia, Alison is in America, Grace is from Singapore and Mary is from the UK but is currently living in America.
Alison, the American iMum is from Illinois. She lives there with her son and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and her newest device which is an iPad Mini!
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Margret Rey/H. A. Rey
12 - 20 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 3 - 5 +
English • French • Spanish •
Get your child ready to learn how to read with Curious George! Discover this innovative, shared reading experience engaging both child and parent. iRead With is a top learning and educational method for kids in Preschool to foster language development.
George and the man with the yellow hat take a trip to the firehouse, and George finds all sorts of new things to explore. When one curious monkey meets a company of unsuspecting firefighters, a big adventure is sure to follow!