My mom has been teaching for – well, it’s been a long time (and she’d be pretty mad if I gave you an actual number). This means that for every gift-giving holiday she gives my kids books and we have a pretty substantial library courtesy of Grandma. When she learned that we could actually download interactive books for our family iPad that actually read out loud to the kids, she looked at me cross-eyed and asked why I would let the iPad read them a book when I had literally hundreds of “real” books to read.
Teacher or not, she’s right: while apps and virtual storybooks can give children access to a whole new world that they may not be exposed to otherwise, there’s no substitute for sitting down and reading out loud. I Feel Super is a good compromise; it’s an iPad storybook created by Mike Geiger for the youngest of players. There’s really nothing fancy about the pages – no crazy noises or flashing graphics, and the artwork is simple and streamlined.
What I appreciate about I Feel Super is the absence of the “read to me” mode. The pages aren’t narrated by a soothing British accent or a recognizable actor, and the words aren’t highlighted or enhanced. Parents actually have to sit down and read this book to their non-reading children. What seems like a simple, no-frills app is actually a wonderful opportunity to bond with children and interact with each other instead of having the kids interact with only an iPad.
Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of situations where my kids play independently on the iPad without any help from me. We also read our fair share of paper books. I Feel Super is perfect for those times you may not have access to a book or even an e-reader. It’s also a great way to introduce very young kids (think toddlers) to the technology of the iPad. By showing kids that there’s more than just games on the device you can broaden their horizons and give them an appreciation of the educational content that’s available.
Our library is so well-rounded that my kids, who are 3 and 6, very rarely read on the iPad. I’m not even sure that they knew there were non-speaking books that could be downloaded, until I showed them I Feel Super. My son got his daily reading in and the three of us had a pretty in-depth conversation about feelings and the things in their lives that make them feel “super”. It was very cool to see how the iPad – which is normally used for games – could be a tool to start dialogue that had nothing to do with Flappy Bird or Minecraft.
From the outset, I Feel Super might seem like it’s missing something, but it’s really not. It’s actually a bridge between technology and real-life interaction, which is crucial to developing social skills. It also builds early reading skills, because there’s no denying that reading out loud to children is the quickest way to teach phonetics and word recognition. It’s a free download so it’s definitely worth a try.