App Review :: Reading Rainbow’s Skybrary

Besides certain programming apps, there are only a few apps with a lot of staying power at our house. The app by Reading Rainbow happens to be one of them. I am not endorsed by them – I just happen to love this app and want to share why.

My boys are sharing some brotherly love while reading a Reading Rainbow book.

My boys are sharing some brotherly love while reading a Reading Rainbow book.

I love it because it has to do with books and learning. My kids love it because they like books, but they also are drawn to technology, so it’s a perfect compromise to satisfy their tech needs. It’s well worth the $60 for a yearly subscription. We do not have a TV that connects to cable, so connecting to our local PBS station isn’t really an option (not that they play Reading Rainbow anymore). We’ve been subscribers for well over a year now and I renew our subscription every six months.  I’m waiting for the kids to tire of it, but they never do.

Like many of our activities, it goes in and out of favor, but one of our favorite features is the ability to save five personal books in your own “backpack.”

My "backpack" currently has 4 books. You can read these books off-line as long as they are in the backpack.

My “backpack” currently has 4 books. You can read these books off-line as long as they are in the backpack.

I love that you can read your books –  without Internet access – as long as they are in a backpack. My husband and I, and both of our boys, have each created our own backpacks. That’s twenty books that we can take on car trips or office visits to read. And, while my six-year-old is becoming a much better reader, it was a life-saver for those days when my oldest needed more help with school work and my youngest wanted me to read a book. He could go and have the book read aloud to him. Each book gives the option of reading it yourself or having it read to you.

Flip the page with your finger.

Flip the page with your finger – preferably NOT the one you are using to bite your nails!

Many of the books are picture books, but they also include a number of non-fiction titles, such as the National Geographic series and a few picture book biographies. The pages “flip” and every other page contains a brief animation that needs to be activated by the user (they touch the screen to run the 2-second animation). Readers can choose to ignore the animations and just move onto the next page.

In addition to the books, there are a number of videos that feature the host, Lavar Burton. The video offerings are different depending on what “book island” you are visiting. There are seven islands and new videos are added or removed quite often.

A shot of one of the many islands, "Genius Academy." Choose some books or watch a few select videos.

A shot of one of the many islands, “Genius Academy.” Choose some books or watch a few select videos.

In our ongoing attempt to reduce the “stuff” in our house, we have given the subscription to our youngest child as a Christmas present. We just wrapped up the ipad mini and stuck it under the tree. That way it doesn’t have to be one more thing that you need to purchase throughout the year. Books are always a gift.