My choice for the best children’s app of 2014 has to go to Endless Reader. It’s a spelling and reading app developed by Originator Kids, and it pushes all the right buttons.
Featuring animated monsters and alphabet letters that growl, roar and squeak, Endless Reader works on the concept of “sight words”. What this means is that the app brings words to life by animating them. This is done so cleverly. First you have to drag and drop the letters to spell a word.
Say the word is “make”. When you drag the letter “m” into place, it makes it sprouts googly eyes and launches into a hilarious “m-m-m-ma” sing-song sound. Once you have spelt the word in full, you then need to use it in a sentence. You drag and drop the words into place, and after a big hurrah, the Endless Reader monsters come on screen and act out the sentence you’ve just formed – which gives context to the word your child has just learned, and reinforces its meaning.
This is something you really need to see in action. Watch this short 30-second clip to see the word “ball” being demonstrated.
The attention to detail by Originator Kids is astonishing and delightful! They’ve developed this app purely as an educational device – meaning there are no high scores to chase, just fun! They are raking in the awards for their apps, which also include Endless Alphabet and Endless Numbers. Endless Reader won a Best of 2013 award from the App Store.
The only downside is the price. While the app is free to download, and it does come with six starter words, you’ll have to purchase “reader packs” to extend the library of words. The reader packs are grouped into reading levels, from Level 1 upwards. They cost R59.99 for a pack of about 20 words and there is a discount if you buy all the reader packs for one level.
My 3-year-old loved this app so much that I eventually caved and forked out the R139.99 to buy all four packs of Level 1 words, so now my boys have 110 sight words to explore and memorise. I winced when I made the purchase, but it was well worth it!
I reviewed Endless Reader on an iPad. If you’re using an Android device, the app is also free and the reader packs start at R51 for 20 words, and R124 for 100 words.
VERDICT: Hands-down my best app of the year! I wish other developers would build apps with as much love as Originator Kids does.