The merits of reading aloud to young children are innumerable. It’s invaluable for bonding time, of course, but it’s also an opportunity for children to develop basic speech skills, grasp the fundamentals of language, and begin to think a little more creatively and abstractly about the world. That’s undoubtedly one of the reasons Apple’s released a new app for Apple TV, iBooks StoryTime, designed to help children follow along interactive, animated stories on TV.
Apple describes iBooks StoryTime as a “different way to experience classic kids’ books and discover new favorites” on the app’s iTunes page. “With read-aloud narration and beautiful illustrations, every handpicked title in the app transforms Apple TV into an engaging place for young readers to enjoy the stories they love.”
The new app, which launched on Friday morning, acts as an extension of the iBooks app on the iPad, iPhone, and macOS computers. Kids download titles they’d like to peruse and a read-aloud feature helps them along at a variable pace. Book pages turn automatically as audio and visual cues appear onscreen, guiding kids as they progress through chapters. Titles synched with audio narration, special character voices, and sound effects scroll at the bottom of the TV — sort of like literary karaoke.
Parents can also get involved, and kids can read at their own pace in manual mode, in which pages flip with a flick of the Apple TV’s Siri remote.
Better yet, StoryTime plays nicely with the rest of Apple’s iBooks ecosystem. Purchased titles download instantly to Apple devices signed into the same iCloud account, and conversely, supported books purchased on iPad and iPhone show up on the Apple TV. Progress syncs across hardware, too — kids can leave pick up where they leave left off on any iOS or macOS device.
StoryTime’s library is relatively limited at the moment. The curated crop of initial books includes Green Eggs and Ham, The ABC’s of Cookies, The Little Red Hen, Meet Tracker, and Goodnight Moon. Apple is also offering a Dora’s Big Buddy Race Read-Along Storybook as a free download.
The app’s available from the iTunes store.