Disney has launched Disney Digital Books —an interactive reading site. Because it’s from Disney, it’s got the gorgeous art, beloved characters and familiar stories you’d expect. For $8.95 per month/ $79 a year, you get one parent account/3 child accounts. Children can choose from over 500 new and classic Disney books.
The most important thing is that it promotes reading– it doesn’t replace traditional reading. Children have the option to have books read to them by the site (using “Look and Listen” with voices and sound effects), read books on their own (or with a parent reading to them), build their own stories using familiar characters, as well as play games. Children can also earn points. Reading levels are “Shared Reading and Beginning Reading” (picture books and early readers), “Reading on my Own” (storybooks and readers) and “Reading Chapter Books”.
Children can quickly find books by clicking a favorite character on the character carousel. While reading, children can click to hear words pronounced, see definitions using the built-in dictionary, and hear trivia about the story.
My 4 year old son is nuts about “Cars” and loved hearing me read stories with the characters he adores. As a teacher, I was thrilled that he had so many options and books to hear (there are 500 books at present time). While I am into traditional literature, anything that keeps his interest in reading makes me happy. Right now, the most popular option for him was the “Look and Listen” – he was mesmerized hearing the “Look and Listen” version of “Toy Story”. He’s never seen the movie and instantly fell in love with the story. After Toy Story, we played with the Story Builder – using “Cars” characters. He loved picking the text; though I verbally narrowed down the choices for the fill in the blanks (6 was too many, so I gave him 3 choices). He loved picking the art and resizing the pictures. We were able to save the book and print it out — he was so happy that “he wrote the story”.
Some parents are going to be against the concept of going online to read books, but I look at it this way — I’d rather have him hearing/reading stories, than playing games online. Disney will be adding seasonal content and more stories every month and hopefully they will release a mobile app to be able to access the site from your phone.