Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Kids eBooks Subscription Services

I've been looking for a good kids eBook subscription service. Both of my kids enjoy reading but they love variety, they always want something new to read. We find eBooks very convenient but they get expensive when kids want something new to read each day. So I'm considering getting them a subscription service so they can get access to lots of books for a fixed fee.

There are quite a few kids eBooks apps and services popping up so we're going to trial a few and see which is the best fit before picking one. In this article I'll give an overview of the services I'm considering. Then we'll trial the ones on our short list and I'll write reviews of those.

First I should mention that our local library supports Overdrive and does have some kids titles. But these are generally longer chapter books for older kids. This is brilliant for the books that I read to the children at bedtime, but not for the books they want to read themselves.

My boys are nearly 5 and 6.5 and are both good readers for their ages. They are very particular about what they want to read so I'll be looking for a good range of the kind of books they enjoy. They both tend to favor non-fiction titles and fantasy and adventure stories.

OK. Let's take a look at what's available, in no particular order at this time.

  1. Reading Rainbow follows on from the popular TV show with LeVar Burton. The Reading Rainbow app is free to download for iPad or Android and you get one free eBook to try it out. Then there's a subscription service. Inside the app you can move between themed islands including a National Geographic themed island. There are lots of books about nature and famous people as well as traditional story books. The books are full color with pictures and kids can choose to read for themselves or have the books read to them. You also get video clips featuring LeVar Burton as an added extra (and treat for Trekkie parents.)
    Age: 3-9
  2. Speekaboos is a subscription website which also has an iPad app, with an Android app to follow. It's aimed at a younger crowd with interactive fairy tales, folk stories and fables as well as nursery rhymes and songs. Speekaboos uses videos with the pictures and text of the books shown as it is read, sometimes by a celebrity. There's also supporting educational content including worksheets and games. You can try out 10 titles for free.
    Age: 2-6
  3. We Give Books (free) WeGiveBooks is an awesome website that we have been using for a while. It has a selection of free eBooks that kids can read and even better, reading them supports children's literacy charities. There are some excellent books here for reading to younger children and for older children to read for themselves. The website requires Flash so you may be able to use it on an Android tablet.
    Age: Up to 10
  4. Disney Digital Books is a subscription website and app with over 600 Disney themed titles over 5 reading levels. The titles are interactive with audio and a dictionary. There's also a story builder feature and a points system. An interesting options for Disney fans.
    Age: Pre-readers through to Junior Novels
  5. BookBoard is an iPad app that offers over 300 kids eBooks over various reading levels. Kids unlock new books to read as they progress. BookBoard keeps track of their progress. BookBoard has audio so kids can have books read to them. There is a free trial.
    Age: Picture Books - 12
  6. Amazon FreeTime Unlimited is a subscription service for the Kindle Fire that includes kids' eBooks, videos and apps. Here's a list of the Kindle FreeTime Unlimited Content which includes a lot of popular eBooks. There's no learn to read framework around the content.
    Age 3-8
  7. StarWalk Kids Media eLibrary offers a subscription to digital books accessible via website or iPad app. The books can be read to the child or they can read. There's a free test drive of an eBook available. StarWalk has a particular focus on non-fiction titles. There's an educational focus with a search that uses genre and lexile level to find the right books.
    Age: 0-14
I'll come back and add to this list if we end up finding and considering other eBook services.

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