Review of the “Bean’s Baby” app

Bean’s Baby by appropo is the app version of a 1998 children’s book of the same name by Sarah Hines-Stephens. The app is not high tech or very fancy. It is comparable to early readers and board books with a simple storyline and sparse illustrations.  The app is made for ages 0-5, but given the research that solidifies the idea that children under the age of 2 should not be exposed to media screens, it is suggested that the app should be used for children ages 2 -5. As Carisa Kluver from DigitalStorytime.com explains, apps for children, especially young children must be developmentally appropriate. The simplicity of the story and the illustrations play into this idea. Because this app is for young children, the narrative is simple, the words can be repeated, and the story follows the adventurers of a cat- a creature that most young children either know because they themselves have one or because they are a common enough animal in everyday life.

You can use the app on any apple device (iPod, iPhone or iPad), as wall as Droid devices and devices that use Google Play. The initial app is free, with the ability to add more features and stories for $1.99.  So when it comes to cost, Bean’s Baby is very affordable for an interactive book. Other apps in the Bean series features; Bean’s Night, Bean’s Games and Not Without Bear, with each app following the same structure and simple design. There are one to two words on each screen with pictures corresponding to the words. The pictures move with the sentences. There are options that allow the parent to both read the book to the child and activate the interactive features through touching Bean or the baby, or there is an auto play feature where the book is read to the child and the action takes place automatically.  When the words are spoken in the auto play mode, they light up so the child known which word corresponds to the spoken sound and show action.

The goal of this app is to help build early literacy skills such as helping a child to associate the sound of a word with the printed word itself. The simplicity of the app, with gentle music and minimal sound effects, helps the child to focus on the words and the actions without distraction from extra effects that are not meaningful to the apps goal. Along with participating in early literacy skill development, Bean’s Baby also helps children to build the transliteracy skills a child will need once they hit school age. The ability to read and learn using many different technologies and platforms is a skill that is vital to a child’s success in school.

This app, although made from a book, does not contain any hot links, ads, in app purchases; push notifications, or data collecting. The only advertisements contained in the app are on a separate page that pops up at the end of the book and shows the other books in the Bean series. Bean’s Baby, if used correctly by purchasers, has the ability to help children in their early literacy development. However, the app, although simple enough that a child could use it alone, should be used with a parent’s help and supervision. It is only through parental guidance and reinforcement of the techniques that the child would succeed in learning the skill that Bean’s Baby promotes.

Review by Rebecca Stanwick

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