Short Stories for Kids is a new app by Internet Design Zone featuring five classic fables. The first story, The Ant and the Grasshopper, is free, while the remaining four are available as a one-time in-app purchase of $1.99. These stories feature colorful illustrations and a moral at the end of each.
There are two options for all stories: Read For Me and Read By Myself. There are no other settings or options in this app. If the Read For Me option is chosen, the female narrator’s voice is pleasant, though a bit overly enunciated. The words are not highlighted when read or read when tapped.
As it is, there is an animation per page that is automatically activated when the page is opened and it keeps going the entire time on the page, which makes them rapidly annoying, especially for child trying to focus on reading the page. It would have been better to have all the animations tap-activated for just a short time. In The Fox and the Stork, for example, a stork walks across the path on the first page, with mountains, a house, and a sign to Mr. Fox’s house in the background. When the stork reaches the end of the page, he appears again at the other end and continues.
Instead of being associated with individual items, there is one sound effect on selected pages, activated by tapping anywhere on the screen. To hear the grasshopper play his guitar, for example, the child can press on the clouds behind him or anywhere else.
On some screens, a particular item, such as the stork, is highlighted. Tapping the screen activates an additional animation—in this case, the stork trying to drink soup with his long bill. There are some screens with no additional interactions, and I didn’t find any with both sound and an additional animation.
These are classic stories that teach good lessons. Each of them has a moral, stated on the last screen of the story. Teachers and parents could use these stories to tie into character development lessons or use them to spur discussion. In The Fox and the Grapes, children learn that “It’s easy to despise what you cannot get,” while The Dove and the Ant teaches “One good deed deserves another.”
The app has the feel of one for younger kids, but they probably won't understand the lessons or some of the vocabulary, including words like despise, pity, quench, plucked, and shallow, on their own.
There were a few times the illustration doesn't quite match well with the picture. For instance, in The Ant and the Dove, the story reads that the ant “bit the hunter’s leg,” but the illustration shows him biting the foot near the toes. In The Ant and the Grasshopper, the ant is shown playing an electric guitar, and the sound it emits is an acoustic one.
Even though talking animals are obviously already not realistic, a cartoon ant needs six legs instead of four, and should be biting a leg/foot without a full set of teeth. These are small details, but important for an app for kids. Words like "ant" and "grasshopper" are also erroneously capitalized throughout the app.
One other large concern is, in The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs, the farmer and his wife greedily decide to kill their special goose in order to get out all the gold at once. This depiction is a little more graphic than some 2-6 year olds (the suggested age range) may enjoy. There is a knife dripping with blood next to the goose with an obvious wound. At the end on the moral screen, the bloody goose and knife appear again. For kids growing up on a farm, this might not be too graphic, but it’s more than my 4-½ year old is used to seeing, especially since the goose is killed for greed, not food.
Finally, there is an "i" button on the bottom right of each page that (clearly accidentally) links to a page on a free sounds site where the sound for that page was downloaded from. That's a really big glitch.
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Heather Hetler is a mom of three kids and is also an almost-graduated speech-language pathology student. Ron Engel contributed to this review. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.