Some of the questions I ask myself when I first look at an app are:
- Does the narration help users interact with the content?
- Is the narration appropriate for the content?
- Can you turn the narration off if you just want to read it?
- Is the narration available in more than one language?
The Magic School Bus: Oceans app also has narration that plays automatically when you swipe a page. But there are also speech bubbles from the different characters that you tap on to hear them. This helps keep readers engaged, still focused on the content and on task. One task that new readers must learn how to do is read dialog with expression, hearing the different voices in their heads. This app will help new readers develop these skills.
National Geographic Ultimate Dinopedia app. The narrator's voice is overly dramatic for this nonfiction text, almost sensationalizing the material. Imagine a World Wide Wrestling announcer's voice narrating Life On Earth, instead of David Attenborough.
I have been especially pleased to see that several book apps have made their narration and text available in more than one language. Winged Chariot's apps do a wonderful job of this. You can see below all of the languages that The Red Apple comes in: English, Spanish, Dutch, German, Polish, Italian, Chinese and more. All of these are available with the purchase of the one book, making it possible for listeners and readers to switch between languages if they are learning a new language. Other Winged Chariot apps we have enjoyed include Scruffy Kitty, The Birthday and Emma Loves Pink. The all include options for different languages.
Journey Into the Deep explores the ocean depths. But I know that the dense text will be difficult to read for many children who are interested in the subject. A compelling narrative track would be incredibly helpful.
- What features of an app's narration do you think are important?
- Are there apps that are particularly successful with this aspect?
For other articles in this series, please see Evaluating Book Apps for Children: A Mini-Series.
©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.