Are books dangerous for your health?
Son #1 dropped a bookcase on his foot about a month ago while he was ‘trying to clean it’. Fortunately it was a small bookcase. No broken bones.
Son #2 managed to pull the exact same bookcase over on himself last week. Clearly we either need to invest in sturdier furniture (Mum’s suggestion) or go digital (a great excuse to buy a new iPad methinks).
Are ebooks any better for your health? (Or are we just a clumsy family?)
I’m already an ebook convert. When lying in bed and reading late at night it hurts less to drop a Kobo on your face rather than a hardcover as you start to nod off mid-paragraph. (Go on, tell me you’ve never done it yourself).
But for kids? Shouldn’t they be introduced to the feel of the book? That wonderful smell of the paper, the two dimensional shape of the words and pictures and the bracing sound as the paper rips when your toddler yanks the page too quickly…
Son #2 is utterly obsessed with books and treats them like soft toys, taking several with him to bed each night. Once he’s sound asleep I creep into his bedroom and remove the weighty tomes for fear he’ll skewer himself on the corner of Cars 2 at some point during the night.
Let’s ask an expert
I decided to look into the ebook vs real book issue a bit further. Fortunately they let you do PhDs on pretty much anything these days, and Natalia Kurcirkova has done one in the area of ‘parent-child shared book reading’, so I thought I’d check out what she has to say on the subject.
It didn’t help much. Natalia Kurcirkova is quite happily sitting on the fence: “It is not a question of book or e-book for children. The two can complement each other… Children can fluidly negotiate digital and non-digital media, carrying their favourite story characters from one to another.”
Fair point. Olaf is just as funny in pictures on an iPad as he is on a poster on the wall. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go and get yourself a copy of Frozen NOW or we can no longer be friends.
Who cares? There’s a free kids story book app up for grabs!
It was with some excitement, then, that I opened an email from Zach, who wanted to send me a free subscription for a kids story time app called FarFaria (as in Once upon a time, FarFaria away… oh what a glorious dad-joke, I love it!). Better still, he wanted to give me a 3-month subscription to give away to one of you, my dear lovely blog readers.
What is it?
FarFaria is designed for kids aged 2-9 years. It’s got over 700 story books with new ones added each week. You can share story time with your kids and read to them or go and get something done (you know, those really selfish things like cooking dinner or putting on a load of laundry…) while the audio track plays the story and the kids turn the pages themselves.
So what do the kids say about it?
I’ve had some trouble convincing Son #1 to get much past the “See the World” introduction, which shows a map of FarFaria with various islands you can visit, each of which contains a library of themed stories. If anyone wants to develop an app that includes over 700 maps with new ones added each week let me know (oh right, Google maps. Yes, thanks…).
Son #2, however, is a more than a little bit in love. His favourites islands (libraries) are Animal Kingdom and the Nursery Rhymes section.
The app is easy for kids to use themselves, whatever their age. Son #2 (21 months and technically below the recommended minimum age of 2) delights in flicking the pages back and forth and making the pictures change and the people speak or sing to him. Older kids can choose to turn the audio off and practise their own reading skills.
Will Mum like it too?
For the sake of research, I’ve been checking it out myself late at night. My two favourite books are currently:
1. Moms at work
A whole book about how Mums do lots and lots of hard work – at home, at the office, and a full range of other traditional and non-traditional female occupations. Yep, teach ’em how it is while they’re still young.
2. 10 Monkey Ninjas
This book is freaking hilarious. Targeted at level 1 readers, the basic storyline goes something like this:
- Monkey Ninjas climb trees and walls.
- Monkey Ninjas fall off walls and onto bonnet of really cool car.
- Go for joy ride in really cool car.
- Monkey Ninjas arrive at gates of really cool house apparently somewhere in Hollywood.
- Find bananas.
- Happy Ninja Monkeys.
Beware Genius Jungle – I cut my visit short after I found a book about spiders with a really creepy, hairy one on the front cover. Then again, I’m a wuss. Or maybe just not intellectually lofty enough to be a part of Genius Jungle.
Classics Grove is a much safer destination for ‘fraidy cats. As well as the standard English classics they’ve thrown in international gems such as the Filipino Folktale Why Mosquitoes Buzz in our Ears. I’ve added it to my favourites. I plan to read it again before summer sets in.
What’s not so great about it?
Not all the stories are brilliant. Some are less than inspired or a little stilted. Then again, show me 700 books anywhere and I’ll show you a few lemons. Overall, there’s a really great variety for all levels of readers and areas of interest. Just skip the not-so-great ones and ‘favourite’ the gems so you can find them easily later.
How do I WIN?
To WIN a 3-month subscription to FarFaria story book app (for either iPad or Android) simply comment below and tell me: what is your favourite kids’ story book? The person who picks one closest to my favourite story book wins. Entries close 5pm Sunday 15 June 2014. The winner will be announced on Facebook and the blog.
UPDATE 15/6/14: Congratulations to Bec from The Plumbette. Hope you and the kids enjoy the FarFaria app:-)
Try FarFaria for free: download FarFaria and read one story every day for free with no obligation to pay
Linking with Essentially Jess for #IBOT:-)
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free subscription to FarFaria for myself and one to give away to a reader in exchange for this article. All opinions are my own. I was not paid to write this article.