Nothing compares to having your kid sitting in your lap while you read a book to them, but there’s definitely a place for great ebook libraries on my kids’ devices too. So when I saw Readeo advertised on my Instagram feed recently, I paused scrolling to check it out.
This company combines an ebook library with video chat, so you can read to your child even when you’re not together in person. They’ve been around for a while, mostly catering to military families who spend so much time apart, but with quarantine and COVID separating so many of us from our loved ones now there’s a whole new need for it.
But we had to ask: is this any better than just reading a book over FaceTime or Zoom? I think, yes. Here’s why.
Related: 10 terrific reading apps for kids of all ages
If you’ve ever tried reading a book to a child over video call, you know how awkward it is to read the page then hold it up to the camera so they can see the picture, then take it back away to read again. With Readeo, the pages are displayed on the screen—making it easier for the adult to read and for the kids to enjoy the illustrations. But because your child is connecting with someone they know and love to read to them—not just an audio book recording—they’ll be more engaged.
Their library is on the small side (around 200+ books) but they are mostly good quality books (many are award winners) from some of our favorite indie publishers as well as big names like Simon & Schuster. In fact, many of them are books you’d see in our best books of the year lists each year.
Note that they are almost all picture books for kids up to age 8. If you’re looking for chapter books for older kids, this isn’t the platform for you.
I like how easy this makes it for grandparents or other relatives and friends who don’t live in your home to connect with your kids through books. They don’t have to buy new books (or visit a library in person) to read them over video chat with your kids. And for parents who travel, you can read bedtime stories without having to pack books in your luggage.
Related: 5 of our favorite audiobook apps. Download them now!
While parents can, of course, read books to their kids in person on Readeo too, I could see myself enlisting out-of-town (or quarantined) grandparents to join my youngest for story time in the evening while I cook dinner or using it as a fun way to mix things up in our FaceTimes with cousins.
While the company’s been around for a while, it’s become a great option for those of us sticking it out in quarantine life now too.
You can sign up for Readeo at their website. The subscription starts at $9.99 per month with a 14-day free trial period.