Developer: DADA Company Edutainment S.L.
Price: $2.99 Download on the App Store
There may be nothing that makes bedtime with toddlers easy, but a few minutes together with a bedtime story certainly paves the way. Though many parents still prefer traditional story books, interactive story books like those available through the App Store are an engaging alternative and provide a solid introduction to technology for young children. DADA Company’s Off to bed! demonstrates that interactive stories on iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch can be done well and with kids in mind. This delightfully animated interactive story has many of the features that a traditional children’s book requires, but provides interactive surprises to help bring the story to life.
Off to bed! is a short bedtime story with a sing-song prose that alternates between rhyming and counting down to bed time – two read-aloud techniques that appeal to young children. Each page features interactive art work that children can elicit movement and sound from with a touch or a swipe. The animations, both stationary and interactive, are the strongest aspect of Off to bed! and create a calm, stylish backdrop to the story. Several optional settings provide for control of the story experience, including the option to automatically or manually turn pages, turn the background soundtrack on or off, and enable or disable the voiceover story-telling.
If Off to bed! has an Achilles heel, it’s definitely with the voiceover. It is professionally done, but it sounds synthesized and the pronunciation of some words – especially of the word “climb” – really gives the marked feeling of synthesized text to voice translation. In effect, this weakens the benefit to early readers to touch to hear words. However, the interactive feature benefit of touching numbers is good for early number recognition and all of the interactive animations are very sweet and child-like. And of course, the voiceover can be turned off so parents can simply read the story and let their children interact with the pages.
Off to bed! is a charming interactive story book that has good appeal for small kids and leaps the chasm between board books and electronic, interactive storybook apps with a bit of style. Whether it’s giggling clouds or critters blowing good-night kisses, the interactive aspects are simultaneously enchanting and soothing and are all bed-time appropriate. Though definitely not a Caldecott medal bedtime story, Off to bed! is an imaginative app that was clearly designed with kids in mind.