Bottom Line: Terrific reading comprehension app (with questions!), comes with two books free and includes a cool, auto-record feature.
One of things I often think when reviewing an ebook app is the general lack of inclusion of reading comprehension features. Every ebook seems to provide an extra puzzle, matching game, etc., and a few multiple-choice questions, with the app providing support for the right and wrong answers, would be so much more valuable.
The apps could pose not just straight reading comprehension questions, such as "Why did the family move to a new house?" but creative, open-ended, discussion questions: "Would you like to live in a house in the city or on a farm?"
I know that parents can provide this function, but the presence of the questions would be a great help (and reminder to discuss after each reading). They don't have to be an actual part of the book, just an extra small section for use when desired.
Enter Booksy, which provides ebooks for children Pre-K through second grade. It has the reading comprehension questions I wish every ebook had, and a lot of other really impressive features.
The most noteworthy of these features is that the app can detect when someone is reading its text and records it automatically.
I had Ethan read one of the stories, noticed this function the next day in the settings, and realized that it had automatically recorded his reading. A small, red dot appears to show that it is recording. (I wondered what the red dot was for!) If you enter an email address, it will even email you the recordings automatically when completed.
Plenty of other functions: Each word is read when touched, so the child can get that little bit of extra help if they need it. A parental dashboard allows access to the recordings, displays what words were pressed (to indicate which ones were problems) and how long it took the child to reach each book (allowing a parent to track progress over time).
There is an additional screen that displays stars, ribbons, and trophies that are awarded for accomplishments such as reading every book, reading everyday, and taking the reading comprehension tests at the end of each book. Up to three different users/readers can be tracked at the same time.
The books are all really well done and look great, especially the science/animal ones.
The basic edition is free with two books: Humpback Whales and Hello Bunny. There are seven additional books available for purchase but they are reasonably priced at 99 cents each. There is a bookstore icon that must be pressed to access the images of the in-app purchase books and if you don't want your kids to see those right away (or at all) there is an option in the settings that makes the bookstore icon disappear.
The additional in-app purchase titles include Solar System (with an accurate description of the proper classification of Pluto!), Insects, Elephants, and Chimpanzees. More releases will be added soon.
The only thing I find the app is missing is a button to access the settings/return to main menu at any time and a way for the child (or their parents/siblings) to follow the book and their own reading at the same time. Right now, there is a nice, in-book menu with a lot of functions that can be accessed by sliding up on any page but I wonder how many kids/parents will find it since they are used to seeing a button.
Booksy provides the reading-comp functionality I'd like to see in all ebooks and a lot of other features and, since the first two books are free, it's a must-download if you have children reading at the targeted age range. Highly recommended! A new Top Pick!
If you would like to purchase Booksy please use the links provided. The cost is the same, but Smart Apps receives a small percentage. Thanks for your support!
smartappsforkids.com was provided five free in-app purchase books and a priority-review fee to complete this review quickly.