I think Siena Entertainment has hit one out of the park with StoryChime's The Queen Bee (.99) a 21st Century take on the Brothers Grimm 1884 Fairy Tail.
Let me walk you through why. According to the company press release, Story Chimes was created by two young fathers who were looking for a way to educationally entertain their kids while promoting a contemporary way to make reading fun.” Well if my son is any indication, they certainly have found a way to make reading fun.
How it works is very familiar to ebook readers, though with a very welcome audio-book feature – a feature I’ve said before every ebook on an iPhone should have. When you open the book aka start the app, you’re greeted by a pleasant voice introducing the story. On your iPhone or iPod’s screen you get two virtual pages (just like opening a book) with colorful and well-done artwork. On the bottom there is auto-scrolling text and as I mentioned above the story is read to you. When you reach the end of the page, there is a pleasant audio chime and arrow letting you knows it’s time to turn the page. When you want to turn the page backwards or forwards you swipe your finger across the page aka screen, much like flipping the page in a paper book. Why am I getting excited with this app? Watch the video of my son, and notice his concentration. He’s reading a new book without my wife or I. Anyone who knows children and the importance of repetition in reading (yes it’s very important developmentally to read the same story over and over again) will recognize what this means. No, not that you don’t have to read to your children, you should do that, but now you have an ally who never gets tired (just needs a charge now and then) and can help keep them excited to want to read.
Now that the bar has been set this high I have some concerns. I really wish there were some sort of reading level rating (think marketing this to schools) system, and I’d like to see a way other than the iPhone’s mute switch to turn the audio book feature off (iPod Touch users will appreciate that) also, I wish the pages turned just a tad easier and didn’t seem keyed to audio book feature having read the page before it can be turned, - my son like most kids likes to jump around, reread his favorite parts, etc. Despite these few things that I think could be improved, have no doubt this is a strong app, do your children a favor and get some StoryChimes for them to read.