If you’re a parent of children under the age of 12 then there is no doubt that you are familiar with Disney’s characters. My 3 year old daughter is in love with Princess Tiana, Woody, and Buzz Lightyear. In an attempt to get in some more reading time and really take advantage of her love of Disney characters I decided to give Disney Digital Books a try. I figured that since they were offering a free 7 day trial that I had nothing to lose.
The signup process for Disney Digital Books as fairly simple. After registering with the site I was granted access. I was given the option to create multiple accounts for each of my children so that the experience was customized with their name and they could also choose a Disney character to be their avatar.
With my daughter sitting next to me on her little chair, we navigated our way through the site. She was instantly “oohing” and “aahing” over the different sounds and animations that I described above. She decided that she wanted to use the Disney character Princess Tiana from the Princess and the Frog to be her avatar and then we went into the site. Once into the actually site we were given the option to choose from hundreds of Disney Digital Books to read. Some of these books were actual recreations of the Disney movies that you’ve probably heard of before like Toy Story, the Princess and the Frog, Pinocchio. And some of the stories were actually new spins on these stories with further adventures by these same Disney characters.
My daughter and I surfed around to her hearts content. At first we started out with me just reading the stories to her. Although she was attentive, one thing that I didn’t like about this feature was that the digital books were separated by age level. At times I ended up picking some books that were chapter books and more oriented towards older readers. There weren’t nearly as many pictures in these digital books as I felt were necessary to interest a 3 year old for very long.
One feature on Disney Digital Books that would be great for an older child was that the pointer turned into a pencil shaped object that you could drag over each word and then the word would be pronounced for you. This would be good for a child who is learning how to read. However, one downfall of this feature is that each word is spoken by someone with a different voice. So for example if you are trying to point and click all of the words in one sentence then you will have about fifteen different voices that have said each word by the time that sentence is done. While this feature is good for helping children with word pronunciation, I really do not think that it is good for helping with reading comprehension.
Another feature on Disney Digital Books is that you can just have a book read to you. My daughter really liked this feature. I thought that this feature was nice, but I really compared it to watching TV. It reminded me of still frame TV shows like Thomas the Train. I think that sites like this should really emphasize the child and the adult interacting and this feature is one that can allow an adult to just park their child in front of the computer and listen to someone else read to them.
Overall I would say that the Disney Digital Books trial is nice and simple to use. Another plus is that it is free and requires no credit card, so if you are curious then I would definitely give it a try. I did, however, decide to cancel my trial of Disney Digital Books because I was disappointed that the characters really did not come to life. I felt that there were not a lot of animations or interactions besides just reading the books, and I did expect a lot more than that.
Curious about Disney Digital Books? Check it out yourself at http://disneydigitalbooks.com.