Monday, January 25, 2010

Sylvan Dell Publishing eBooks Review

Earlier this month, I reviewed Little Skink's Tail by Janet Halfmann, a book published Sylvan Dell Publishing. They have recently released their next generation eBooks that feature auto-flip, auto-read, and switchable English and Spanish text AND audio.

When first approached with an opportunity to review their new format, I was not very excited about it at all. I didn't think a computer version of a book would be very user friendly format for my three year old. I do however, like Sylvan Dell Publishing's strong math and science educational component and how how most of their books are about subjects of high interest to my daughter. So I after being asked very nicely to just give them a try, I agreed.Currently, there are forty-five titles available in eBook format. For the purposes of this review I will discuss the book, What's New At The Zoo: An Animal Adding Adventure. One of my daughter's favorites, because she loves animals and visiting the zoo. With all the choices to pick from, she zoomed in on this title right away. It features rhyming text asking a simple addition question, delightfully illustrated pages filled with color and action, and the arithmetic problem clearly shown. Animal facts, mainly what baby animals of each species depicted are called, are woven throughout the story. There is also red balloon to find on each two page spread. The math problems vary in difficulty with 12+8 being the most difficult and including carrying.I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the eBook format. It did take me few minutes to figure out all the features, like how to get the pages to auto-flip, but not too long. Overall, I consider them very user friendly, and even though I did not need to refer to operating instructions or have to call for customer service both are offered. A screen view of ER's favorite page from the book, featuring the elephants - of course☺, is above.

Unfortunately, we are a non-bilingual family, so I liked the option to switch back and forth between English and Spanish. You can get the text and oral read aloud in both languages, more are planned. The auto-flip feature is a must for us as figuring out the mouse is still a mystery to our three and a half year old. I will say ER REALLY enjoyed listening to several books over the course of a few days. She asked for them a lot, saying that she needed to use the computer, and even the longer stories held her attention. It was a great way for me to have something educational for her to do while I made some quick phone calls or did a few chores around the house.

Nothing can take the place of a parent child read together, and the interaction with a book that only a caregiver can provide but this is a good option for something different with limited use. While it can't respond to her personally, that can offer ER exposure to another language which I cannot. Children wanting computer time will enjoy this safe and educational format, that parents can feel comfortable letting their children have.
While I enjoyed reviewing this format, at $11.95 per eBook I don't think I would purchase one for my family. However, should you interested in them, they do provide ample forms of previews so you can make the best choice. Sylvan Dell Publishing's catalogue has a wealth of quality titles, and I would prefer to purchase them in paperback format. Although, if I had a lap top, and my child could access them while we're out and about like when we're waiting for our food at a restaurant, I might reconsider.

Sylvan Dell Publishing does a great job of providing extension activities for their titles, with free online resources that can be used to supplement their books in either paper or eBook format. By far I think the best audience for this new form of eBook are schools. I would have loved to have access to these in the computer lab or on my classroom computer, especially since so many wonderful related resources are provided for enhancing the educational content of each book:
Disclaimer: Thank you to Sylvan Dell Publishing for providing me with free access to their online eBooks for the purpose of writing this review.

2 Friends Said:

Terri Kahrs said...

Hi, Katie! Thanks for stopping by, and good luck in my drawing! Hugs, Terri

balujan26 said...

Thanks! Good review. Nice blog. I like this post. I am follow your blog.

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