Even though my two older kids aren’t as tied to a specific bedtime routine as when they were younger, reading in bed together is something that we still all love doing. And with a husband who travels frequently, it’s so neat that the Story Bug app lets them get in that bedtime reading time with Daddy when is away. Or for many families, when Mommy is away.
Story Bug lets two parties in separate locations read the same book, at the same time. Not only that, it turns the pages at the same time, even mimicking where the other person is pointing on the page, to help make the experience that much more real. Pretty crazy stuff.
Once you download the app to your iOS device you can invite family members to connect through the app–though of course that means you need to be a serious Apple family to use Story Bug. A connection sounds like a phone ringing, and when you answer, a little video chat box in each corner lets you see the other party, Skype style. I love how that even while you’re focusing on reading a story to your children or grandchildren, that at the same time you can get a read on their own reactions. And smiles.
The book selections are limited to those from children’s publisher, Cricket Media and cover stories for kids aged about 0-6; though I would suggest kids would be most interested as toddlers or preschoolers. Don’t expect any Caldecott winners either; I have to say the books themselves are a pretty old-school in feel, and certainly don’t have the same aesthetic as a title like Stella and the Space Bears; nor does the app have the variety of an Epic ebook subscription. The technology definitely comes first with this app.
That said, Story Bug does feature cute stories with titles your kids might know like Wilson the Worrier and Hadley, the Helped-Along Walrus, as well as classic stand-bys like Wheels on the Bus and Humpty Dumpty. The app is free to download and comes with two free books, anything additional has to be purchased per title, or with a subscription. So I think parents with toddlers will get the most out of this, because once your kid is heading towards kindergarten, they’re probably going to lose interest in the limited selection. Fortunately however, the developers claim that new books are being added every month.
Of course you read a book to someone over Facetime or Skype and save a few bucks, but with Story Bug, it’s nice that both parties are reading the same page and turning the page at the same time which brings the experience to life even more for a three-year-old who likes to read Wheels on the Bus over and over again.
I just hope this technology expands to the kinds of libraries that feature the books parent really get excited to read to our kids over and over too.
Story Bug is available for free on iTunes, and it comes with two books. Additional books are available as in-app purchases.