Saturday, December 7, 2013

Review: Tab the White Bat -- the first app to help children discover and appreciate diversity

Purpose of App: Story app focusing on diversity

Strengths: Offers Read-to-me and Read-alone options.  Cute mini games to interact more with Tab.

Weaknesses: Read-to-me version has no words to help follow along. Read-alone version has minimal pictures and cannot click on words to have them pronounced if a child gets stuck.

Suggested Audience: Anyone feeling out of place or different from peers. Also good for children learning empathy towards a child that is different.

Star Rating Breakdown
Meets Intended Goal: 4
Entertainment: 4
Worth the Price: 4
Ease of Use: 3
Educational Value: 3
Level of Customization: 3

If you would like to purchase Tab the White Bat ($1.99, iPad/iPhone) and support Smart Apps for Special Needs in the process, please click the link below:

Links to developer website and social media (behind parental lock)
Ability to purchase other story apps from the developer

Tab the White Bat is a story app which tells the story about a little bat who is upset because he looks different from the other bats. Tab learns the lesson, "Being different can be wonderful; a great strength."

The story is reminiscent of The Ugly Duckling and Rudolph the Reindeer in that it is a little animal that looks different and is thus treated different from others in his group. Tab learns how to embrace his uniqueness and even find that there can be strength. One part that I particularly like is that the two bats who are particularly hard on Tab learn empathy and that differences can be a good thing.

As wonderful as the story is, there are parts of the app that could use some improvement. First, I love that it offers both a read-to-me and a read-alone option. I just wish that the options were a little more similar. The read-to-me version does not include any printed words to follow along. Since some of the narration per page can be a little long, I can understand why they wouldn't print the whole page worth of text at once. But even if the sentences scrolled across the bottom of the screen, so longer paragraphs don't block the animation, it would be better than leaving it out all together.

The graphics and movement of the read-to-me version are beautiful and eye catching. However, in the read-alone version, it is just paragraphs of words with small illustrations tucked along side of it. Kids learning to read and to associate stories with written words can benefit from following along as a story is read to them. I don't want them to feel like they are being punished by loosing all the graphics if they read it themselves. It's nice to have the option to read without distraction, but maybe having the full graphic without the interactive components would help balance the two reading options.

In the read-along section, a child can turn on the reading option. However, it is either on or off. If a child gets stuck on a single word, they cannot tap the word and have it read aloud. Though this isn't a necessity in this kind of app, it is always nice when it is available.

I like that they include mini games of a memory game, connect the dots and coloring pages. However, on the coloring pages, when a child paints a chosen color, the outline of the picture is covered. So if a child tries to color Tab white, all the detail is lost and only a white blob is left. Actually, even as an adult, my attempt at coloring Tab ended up as a white blob.

This is a beautiful story app with nice little extra games to keep the kids coming back. Children that feel like they are different for whatever reason, as well as those learning to include others with differences, could both benefit and enjoy the story of Tab the White Bat.

From iTunes:

The first doctor-proof app !! It's a reading revolution.
JoyTales presents the first stories for bedtime and any other time of the day!

Tab, the White Bat: the first story thought up to help children discover and appreciate diversity, turning it into a driving force. 

* Original interface graphics and illustrations
* Doctor's file about the aim of the story
* Interactive animation: you choose how to shape the story with the animated panels
* Reading panels for those who want to read alone (or with someone!)
* Record and listen to the voice you prefer (it will make no difference anymore if mum or dad are not around!)
* Choose the narrator voice (only English and Italian available now)
* Ad hoc sound design for each panel
* Bookmark option so you never lose the page
* 3 games available in many different versions (color, memory, join the dots!)
* Lots of information and interesting facts about the animal characters
* Available in English and Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, German, French, Russian and Japanese
* Help manual for beginners

In addition to Tab, there are another 11 tales to be collected!

"Tab, the White Bat" is one of the JoyTales, a collection of 12 original stories, thought up by a team of experts - most importantly a pediatrician and a child neuropsychiatric doctor - to help children as they grow up!

Rachel H. loves finding stories with both beautiful graphics and that teaches a moral lesson.

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