Disney Digital Books Read And Interact With Young Readers

disney digital booksNostalgia time: how many readers out there remember story albums? They were 45s or full size vinyl albums that had a story or collection of stories accompanied by a book. I spent hours reading along with story albums, dutifully turning the page at the bell as I was told. As I was getting nostalgic due to Rita Arens’ whistful post about story albums at BlogHer (which includes a link to a gallery of children’s albums on Dabbled — I owned at least half of these!) I came across this piece in the NYTimes about DisneyDigitalBooks.com.

This new service, launching today, provides an extensive catalog of eBooks coupled with a “Disney-level experience.”

“In the ‘look and listen’ section for beginning readers, the books will be read aloud by voice actors to accompanying music (with each word highlighted on the screen as it is spoken). Another area is dedicated to children who read on their own. Find an unfamiliar word? Click on it and a voice says it aloud.”

The site is painted in the piece as something new and innovative, but to me it just looks like web-enhanced story albums.

Not that this is a bad thing. As I said, I spent hours with those books as a kid, and played/read them over and over. I’m sure they were a big part of the reason I was able to read before entering grade school.

Getting more kids reading is the aim. Publishers and parents worry that kids are reading less and everyone is looking for a way to reverse that trend. At a time when institutions like Reading Rainbow get the axe because of a shift in focus and philosophy on how best to get kids literate and reading, it’s interesting that Disney is returning to an old model, albeit with a modern spin.

Disney isn’t tying their digital books to any one device. In fact, the site probably wouldn’t work correctly on an eReader’s browser, so parents will have to stick to computers. Disney is apparently planning something for cell phones and “devices down the road.” I can see reading/learning with these books being a particularly good experience on a tablet.

Even though Disney doesn’t appear to be positioning/marketing it this way, I’m glad to see the return of story albums. As Arens says in her post, there’s just something about listening to a book read aloud: “As a kid, it was staring at the pictures and hearing more than one voice tell the story. […] While physically being able to read words on a page is certainly important, listening can be more relaxing.” Kids will lose the physicality of a book with digital editions, but they’ll gain more interaction and engagement.

Instead of selling individual titles, Disney is packaging this as a service at the cost of $79.95/year for unlimited access to hundreds of electronic books. It’s not a bad price for what you get, but it also means that kids won’t even own a digital copy of the books they love. Perhaps that won’t matter to them — culturally, we’re leaving physical copies of music and video behind without much protest. Kids raised on a digital diet will probably come up with some other way to hold on the stories and memories they treasure.

Nostalgia time: how many readers out there remember story albums? They were 45s or full size vinyl albums that had a story or collection of stories accompanied by a book. I spent hours reading along with story albums, dutifully turning the page at the bell or ding as I was told. As I was getting nostalgic about story albums due to Rita Arens’ whistful post about them (which includes a link to a <a href=”http://dabbled.org/2009/05/defend-yourself-against-70s-kids-music.html”>gallery of children’s albums on Dabbled</a> — I owned at least half of these!) I came across this piece in the NYTimes about DisneyDigitalBooks.com.
The services, which launches today, is painted in the piece as something new and innovative, but to me it just looks like web-enhanced story albums. Not that this is a bad thing. As I said, I spent hours with those books as a kid, and I played/read them over and over. While kids might lose the physicality of the book with the Digital Books service, they gain more interaction and engagement.
“In the “look and listen” section for beginning readers, the books will be read aloud by voice actors to accompanying music (with each word highlighted on the screen as it is spoken). Another area is dedicated to children who read on their own. Find an unfamiliar word? Click on it and a voice says it aloud.”
Disney isn’t tying their digital books to any one device. In fact, the site probably wouldn’t work correctly on an eReader with a browser, so parents will have to stick to computers. Disney is apprently planning something for cell phones and “devices down the road”. I can see this being a particularly good experience on a tablet.
Even though they don’t appear to be positioning/marketing it this way, I’m glad to see the return of story albums. As Arens says in her post, there’s just something about listening to a book read aloud: “As a kid, it was staring at the pictures and hearing more than one voice tell the story. […] While physically being able to read words on a page is certainly important, listening can be more relaxing.”
Instead of selling individual titles, Disney is packaging this as a service at the cost of $79.95/year for unlimited access to hundreds of electronic books. It’s not a bad price for what you get, but it also means that there’s no lasting physical or even digital object a kid can own. I treasured my It’s A Small World record well into my adolescence.
Perhaps that kind of thing won’t matter to kids as they grow up. We’re leaving physical copies of music and video behind without much protest. Kids raised on a digital diet will probably come up with some other way to hold on the stories and memories they treasure
LEAVE A REPLY
Name*
Email* (will not be published)
Website
*Indicates required field
Comments*
Submit Comments

FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE