Review by Johnny Boo, age 5
How Rocket Learned to Read
App developer: Random House Digital, Inc.
Price (as of 2/23/11): $3.99 (limited-time price)
Requirements: Compatible with iPad
There's a little bird that startled Rocket and said, "There's no napping in class." Rocket listened to the bird read. Rocket learned to spell letters in the snow. I like to make Rocket move in the snow. The mud I like because I like to put mud on Rocket. I like to shake the mud off. Alphabet Drop is about you get to catch letters and then they go on Rocket's head. Bird's Words is wonderful and you get to pick words the lady says. I like this app because it's fateful and it's wondrous. I would recommend this app to kids who like dogs and words.
LitLass's note: Johnny Boo has had the book version of How Rocket Learned to Read since shortly after it came out; in fact, it was one of our first Books of the Week. We've had a renewed interest in the book now that we have the app (Johnny Boo demanded that I read it to him at bedtime the first night we had the app).
With text and illustrations by Tad Hills, the app not only tells Rocket's story (you can have the narrator read it to you or read it all by yourself), it also has two games–Bird's Words and Alphabet Drop. In Bird's Words you're given four sight words at a time, and you need to tap on the one voiced by the narrator. In Alphabet Drop you need to catch letters in alphabetical order, which might be a little difficult for preschoolers, but Johnny Boo is learning to think and tilt the iPad more quickly now that he's had some practice.
And, of course, since this is an app, there are plenty of opportunities for interactivity. Here are just some of them: There's a word of the day (today's is crab), which if tapped can be spoken by the narrator; there's a banner with the letters of the alphabet, which you can tap and then hear each letter sound and see and hear a word that starts with each letter; there's a snow scene in which you can use your finger to move Rocket to form letters (or use your imagination to make him go on adventures and tell your own Rocket stories, as Johnny Boo sometimes does); and there's a scene in which you can paint Rocket with mud and then shake the iPad to remove the mud and start all over again.
We've got a lot of book apps on our iPad, and I think if Johnny Boo were awake right now for me to ask him, he'd agree with me that this one is one of the best ones we've seen.
Disclosure: We won a promo code for this app on Twitter from Random House Books.