iPad App for Far-Far-Away Bedtime Stories

A Story Before Bed, a new app for the iPad, combines recorded stories with an interactive books.

By Emily Krohn

The launch of Apple’s new iPad this past weekend also initiated the release of a new swarm of electronic applications geared to every age range and interest.

One company, Jackson Fish Market, an online software developer, launched their new app, A Story Before Bed for the iPad. This app allows parents, grandparents or anyone with an access to a webcam, to “record videos of themselves reading children’s picture books to their kids” which “can now also be played back over and over on the iPad.”

The app is free but successfully using it comes with a charge. With the app, users can record their reading of the children’s story and once finding it satisfactory, send it to their desired recipient for $6.99. The electronic reading can then be played over and over again on the iPad, with the child getting a personalized, multimedia reading experience.

But are apps like these worth it in the long run? Though sentimental and easy to access, are children learning more about the world of reading through new media versus traditional paper books?

In an article in London’s The Sunday Times, this “new generation of ‘multimedia’ children are spending an average of seven hours a day glued to smartphones, iPods, televisions and video games.” Electronic media, because of its portability, has become an everyday accessory for parents and their children. But does it actually encourage learning? Hillel Cooperman, one of the apps founders, thinks so.

He, along with two other co-founders, left Microsoft about three years ago to create Jackson Fish Market in 2009, which produces “hand-crafted software.”

The Story Before Bed app was created out of the need to connect his family (who lives in Seattle, Washington) to his parents located in Washington, D.C.

“I wanted my parents to read bedtime stories to my kids,” he said.

As it seems, his kids like the app, as well as the iPad and other electronic media devices. Cooperman said that this wave of new media for children is a good thing, but it is all about the content put on it.

“Is a book good for learning? Some yes, some no. It all depends,” Cooperman said, “Any new media will be reflecting what society wants. There is no value inherent in the media. The medium [the content is put on] is neither good nor bad. It moves any content forward. It’s the content, not the platform.”

By weekends end, the app had down load numbers into the thousands, reiterating the fact that for some, it’s more about the experience of reading then the reading device itself.

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