Kids TV network Nickelodeon already has solid footing in the digital space with its lineup of over 40 preschool apps and games and its own streaming service, Noggin. Now, the entertainment brand is making its move into e-books. The company has just launched its first ever reading app aimed at kids, which brings interactive stories from their favorite Nick characters to the iPhone and iPad.
Storybooks that take advantage of digital platforms for features like “read-to-me” modes and animated illustrations are nothing new, but there’s been a resurged interest in the kids reading space in recent months. Apple in November debuted its own iBooks StoryTime app for Apple TV, for example, while Amazon’s new chat-like reading app Rapids also just arrived on Fire tablets in addition to iOS and Android.
Nick Jr. Books, as Nickelodeon’s new kids ebooks app is called, is a bit more traditional, though.
Like many competitors, the app offers access to a collection of stories which can be either read aloud to kids in different modes, or kids can choose to read the stories to themselves. In the fully automated mode (auto-read) the pages will turn themselves, but both read aloud modes (read-to-me is the other) will highlight the words as they’re spoken.
The stories feature interactive elements and animations that kids can tap on, too. Meanwhile, reading progress is rewarded through things like stars and badges to keep children engaged.
Despite its similarities to others on the market, the app does have one big advantage: the Nickelodeon brand. Kids are already familiar with the characters, like Dora, SpongeBob, PAW Patrol, Blue’s Clues, Bubble Guppies and others, while the app’s game-like design and bright music will likely help to encourage them to check out more books.
The app also works with mom or dad’s Apple Watch which can receive parent tips about the stories being read. These questions sent to the wearable device to help engage children and better develop their reading comprehension skills.
An offline mode lets kids keep reading even when they’re not on Wi-Fi, which is useful for reading on disconnected iPads while in the car or on a plane.
Nick Jr. Books ships with three free titles, but there are 49 more available for in-app purchase at $2.99 a pop. Although that’s a lot cheaper than their hardbound counterparts, the price still feels a bit too steep to encourage too many book buying sprees.
Still, these titles aren’t as expensive as Nick’s other digital stories for the new iBooks Apple TV app where kids’ books are $3.99, $4.99, or more. For those in the market for kids books – and who don’t want an ongoing subscription, as with services like Speakaboos, FarFaria, or MeeGenius, for example – the price seems reasonable.
The app itself is a free download on iTunes.