The Cat in the Hat App Guest Review
This review comes to us as a guest post from Carisa at Digital-Storytime.com, a trusted reviewer who focuses primarily on children’s iPad book apps. Carisa’s original rating is 4.5/5 stars. Thanks Carisa!
On a personal note before we dig into the review – Oceanhouse Media has truly excellent early literacy support options in their storybook apps. The word-by-word highlighting, words that pop up when tapped and are read individually, the narration – all are excellent supports to early and emerging readers. This is one of the first apps our family bought, truly a classic. This rendition of the classic print title is also affordably priced comparatively and indestructible (if your children go through paper books like mine do!)
App Name: The Cat in the Hat – Dr. Seuss
Mom’s Rating: 5/5
Kids’ Rating: 5/5
Recommended Grades/Ages: Preschool, Kindergarten, Grades 1-2
Skills Developed: Storybook, Read Aloud, Reader
Available On/Price: Universal (iPhone/iPod/iPad) – $3.99
A lite version of the app is also available for iOS if you’d like to try before you buy.
Reviewed on: iPad
New updates in September of 2012 include the addition of a page guide, additional settings for sound and the ability to record your own narration. These setting also allow for tappable images within the book app to be turned off, a useful feature for both silent reading and in educational settings.
The Cat in the Hat is obviously a ‘must have’ in any collection, whether it’s a digital library or a set of hardcover books with gilded pages. This version is no exception, with bright beautiful pictures of the beloved classic Dr. Seuss. For the read-a-long effect, each word is highlighted as it is read. Although each page is essentially a still image, many pages begin by panning over Seuss’ classic original artwork, zooming in and out to show off each segment of text, a nice semi-animated style.
Otherwise, the book has no real animation, although most of the items pictured in the story react to a light tap with a visual image of the word with accompanying audio (for example, tap on the ball and the word ‘ball’ appears with audio saying “ball”). These word ‘interactions’ are literally hidden all over every page (for example, touch in a blank area within the house & ‘house’ appears on the screen). The words that appear refer to the characters and items around the house, as well as concepts like “wet” when touching the rain streaked window or “play” when touching the bike (this confused my child a bit).
All of the Dr. Seuss book apps have this same style of interaction. It isn’t bad at first, but it repeats indefinitely as long as the child keeps touching the screen. If the child touches the screen over and over in the same spot, the word appears over and over in a cascade of letters that fills the screen along with accompanied audio of the word repeating rapidly. Thankfully new updates allow users to turn this feature off, for young readers who need less distraction.
While this digital book can seem less interactive than other book apps, I appreciate that the developer stayed true to the educational purpose of Seuss. This and several other Seuss titles aimed specifically at children learning to read were developed in an interesting way. According to Wikipedia, “a list was compiled of 348 words that were important for first-graders to recognize, then cut to 250 words and the task was to write a book using only those words. They wanted Seuss to ‘bring back a book children can’t put down.’ Nine months later, using 236 of the words given to him, he completed The Cat in the Hat.”
[February 2011: An update to this & the other Seuss apps has reduced the number of times the interactive 'words' appear, greatly reducing my son's desire to 'over-tap' - very responsive developer with an eye on the educational needs of young pre-readers!]
Other Notes: This app does not include in-app purchases, or advertising. It does include options to share by email, social media integration and external links which ask users to confirm if they’d like to leave the app before doing so.
About Carisa Kluver – Carisa Kluver is the the editor of Digital-Storytime.com, an iPad children’s book review site. She has a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and an MSW from the University of Washington. Before starting this project, she was a school counselor, health educator and researcher in child & maternal health.
Have you downloaded this app? Let us know what you and your children thought – leave a comment!