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The Benefits Of A Storybook App: 5 Reasons To Install Them Today

The Benefits Of A Storybook App:
5 Reasons to Install Them Today

What’s the Big Deal Anyway?

We all want the best social-emotional learning skills possible for our children, so whether it’s sharing read-aloud books or reading from a storybook app, we want to make sure that their emotional literacy is developmentally appropriate.

In our search to find the best opportunities possible for our growing kiddos, we’ve noticed a new trend developing. Technology is bigger than ever before, and while some if it we’re cautious of, educational components can offer great benefits to our kids! So we have to ask: Have you considered the importance of a storybook app? 

At Zoy, we’re obsessed with developmentally appropriate practices for kids of all ages. We want to help them thrive in their social and emotional learning skills, just like you do, so that they can have the very best life possible. So when someone suggested the need for a storybook app, we got right to work looking into how we could fill that need.

What we discovered was exciting!

5 Big Reasons

As you probably already know by now, at Zoy, we really like research, like … a lot! So when we thought about putting together a social-emotional learning app for kids, you know we had to do our homework first! 

When we looked into the scientific research behind storybook apps for kids, we were pleasantly surprised with what we found! It turns out that not only are storybook apps a whole lot of fun (we’re looking at our favorite little elephant!) but they have have so much more to offer! It turns out that a good storybook app holds relational, educational, emotional, and even social benefits! 

At Zoy, SEL (social-emotional learning) is practically our middle name so we knew that it was time to step up to the plate. We gathered together a group of our favorite child psychologists, teachers, and laugh-out-loud children’s authors to develop a one-of-a-kind opportunity, the new Zoy app! 

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves a little bit. Before you check out the app, you have got to hear about the benefits first. When you see what the research says, you’ll be fully equipped to engage with technology as you empower your kids in their SEL education. 

Without further ado, here are the 5 benefits of a storybook app that you may not have considered. Then again, maybe you already wrote the book on it, and you’re thinking it’s about time that the rest of us catch up! Either way, you’re going to want to drop what you’re doing and download one today, and here are the reasons why!

1. Connecting Through Books From Anywhere

Reading picture books to our children is a great way to bond while learning together. Not only are family relationships strengthened but it helps in language development and our child’s overall SEL education. 

According to the Journal of Educational Psychology:

“Engaging in regular shared reading activity is beneficial for children. Over the years a number of studies have shown how shared reading in the home supports young children’s language development (Snow, 1994; Bus et al, 1995; Cline and Edwards, 2013).”

When we were growing up, this always happened in person. We’d cuddle up in our parents’ (or grandparents’) laps, or perhaps we gathered around the storytime carpet at school while feeling connected to the people reading to us as we enjoyed life-changing stories. 

The problem is that things change. With families often moving farther away from relatives than we did a generation or two ago, finding time to read with loved ones can be complicated. Grandma and Grandpa may want to cuddle up with their grandkids and share a warm memory around storytime, but it’s not much fun to read a book over the phone if you can’t hold it in person. Whatever the reason, it leaves a void.

Of course, we can try to squint over zoom to see the pictures that our relatives or teachers hold up to the camera, but it’s not the same. It looks faded and smaller when someone is holding it with their face in the picture, and it means that storytime is affected in disastrous ways. Either children lose interest in storytime, or they lose vital connections with those they used to read with.

Since reading stories together in real time is crucial, storybook apps have made it possible once more! 

A good storybook app can be connected with from most anywhere in the world. That means that parents, grandparents, and teachers can connect with their kids over the phone (or Zoom) and read a book that the kiddos are looking at on their tablets. 

Grandma can smile at her grandkids while looking at the same vibrant colors and larger-than-life words. Kids can giggle at Dad’s silly faces as he reads a story that they’re looking at on their tablet … even if they’re on the other side of the world.

2. Greater Advantages at School

Losing the ability to read together in school happened when the pandemic hit in 2020. For the first time in history, schools around the world were forced to go digital, and our kids were affected. Enjoying read-aloud books with teachers and peers was not easily accessible. 

Fortunately, technology rose to the occasion. Teachers and schools around the globe pivoted and learned how to access technology in new ways to help our children connect and learn. Digital storybook apps were a huge part of helping teachers connect with their students, and now that schools are back in person, digital stories are continuing to help.

Many students are still virtual, and even after the height of the pandemic, schools have adapted by creating more digital content. 

But even before the pandemic, there were aspects of classrooms that were made better by technology and improved our kids’ education as a whole. 

For instance, while preschool and elementary classrooms have long enjoyed storytime on the carpet, children were previously forced to stare at one book from several feet away. It’s not as easy to connect with something that you’re looking at from afar, and teachers can’t afford to buy 20 copies of every story they read. 

But with storybook apps, teachers can give their students access to empowering apps where each child can hold the bright pictures and big words on their devices and read TOGETHER instead of simply staring at one book six feet away. 

It also means that virtual school becomes more accessible from anywhere! Whether in the classroom or at home, teachers and students can connect with the same stories in real time!

According to new research, “Digital storytelling can help teachers save time and effort. Some studies argue that teachers who use digital storytelling more effectively encourage their students to engage in discussion, participation and make content more comprehensible (2014a).”

3. Educating Their Screen Time

Kids love screen time, and they usually want to play a game or watch a movie. When we were younger, that just meant playing video games on the television at home, but with technology evolving so rapidly, most kids now have a phone or tablet at their disposal.

With so much access to their favorite games and shows, how can we utilize it in a way that benefits our kids instead of just mindlessly entertaining them? Is there a way to somehow make it not just beneficial but also educational?

Enter storybook apps, which offer a unique opportunity to educate a child’s screen time. With the same bright colors and animations as video games, it’s easy for them to grab our children’s attention but with very different results!

When children learn to love stories, it sets them up to enjoy reading as well. What’s more, if the storybook app offers SEL stories, then children can grow in their social-emotional development all while having fun.

Storybook apps present the opportunity for a child to utilize their online time as an educational time. The beauty of learning in the new Zoy app of course is that kids have fun all while absorbing SEL education and emotional literacy.

4. Early Literacy

At the local library or bookstore, it’s so much fun for kids to engross themselves in dozens of different titles, topics, and subjects. You can almost see their brains develop as the world is at their fingertips. But we can’t bring the bookstore everywhere we go, right? 

That would mean we’d have to carry a bag of books with us everywhere we go. And who has the time (or core strength) to carry a couple dozen books around town? 

Storybook apps solve this problem quite handily because they allow you to carry a literal library on something as small as a phone or a tablet. Now, instead of picking one book to bring on a trip or waiting to get home to get another book, we can share read-aloud books with our kids from anywhere!

When stories are more accessible, children will read them more often. Digital stories allow for the portability that empowers kids to have their favorite book anytime they want it all without breaking their backs (or the bank).

That’s great news because it turns out that it really can lead to early literacy!

Studies show that exposure to more books (and more words) leads to higher chances of early literacy. In other words, reading skills aren’t developed just by reading words but by reading lots of different types of words.

A recent study in 2014 showed that children who were exposed to digital storybooks had ties to early literacy skills as well as language development.

The Verhallen study in 2014 stated that, “Reading digital stories can also foster children’s narrative and linguistic skills.” (Verhallen et al., 2006)

Another recent study said, When young children have learned to enjoy books, they will continue to read, whereby technical reading and oral language skills keep improving, resulting in sustained motivation to read (Mol & Bus, 2011).”

We have to say, we’re not surprised! Anyone who’s studied literacy skills in children knows that the more books kids are exposed to at an early age, the better than chances are of gaining early literacy skills. 

In other words, the more books children are exposed to, the greater their capacity for early literacy as well as their overall love of books! So download the storybook app you’ve been considering today and watch in awe as your child’s literacy capabilities begin to soar.

5. Transliteracy

This may be a word many of us aren’t familiar with, and that’s okay. But you’ll be glad you know about it after this because it will empower your child to embrace reading in a more advanced way! 

Sage Journals says, “Transliteracy is a term that originally emerged from an interdisciplinary working group of scholars and educators, who defined it as ‘the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.” (S. Thomas et al., 2007, para. 3)

In other words, transliteracy is the ability to read, write, and learn through a variety of formats, which essentially prepares our children to be ready for a digital world.

But why is that so crucial? What makes it better than simply sitting down and reading a paperback book? 

According to recent research, “the world has undergone profound transformations, with digital technologies and globalized networks facilitating movements and interactions among people, languages, and artifacts on a previously unimagined scale—even as those practices have become quickly intertwined in and across people’s daily lives and routines (Appadurai, 1996; Blommaert, 2010; Jenkins, Ford, & Green, 2013).”

In other words, technology (and the world around us as a whole) has changed so much since most of us were early readers. Instead of playing Oregon Trail or Pong while learning how to type at school, the tech world of today inundates all spheres of business and education! At school, our children have to interact with computers, and one day in their future careers, they’ll need to be tech-savvy. 

We can prepare them for the future when we teach them how to spell, write, read, and create on multiple formats through a variety of mediums. In other words, instead of just needing to be able to write with a pen and pencil, they may need to be able to write with a stylus as well as be able to type and text.

When we share digital stories, it starts them on this journey in as fun of a way as possible! Suddenly technology isn’t something so far away. It’s their favorite character, whose name they know how to type in. It’s their favorite story, full of bright colors, that they can access by clicking a mouse or talking to their device.

What About the Cons?

“But what about the problematic aspects of free-range technology?” A friend asked me this question the other day, and to be honest, I could empathize. After all, there are a myriad of online dangers for children, and the “free-range” concept of letting children search for whatever they want online is not a good idea. 

But that’s also another good reason for a storybook app! Dedicated apps that read-aloud stories and SEL skills offer a safe environment for kids to explore. 

And don’t forget! You should be accessing these apps together! Because when you’re modeling healthy technology behavior in a rapidly-evolving digital world, your child will follow suit.

In her groundbreaking book, Screenwise, Dr. Devorah Heitner explains it like this:

“The frameworks, devices, and apps are changing all the time and will continue to evolve. But the relationship and time management skills you foster will help your child even as the latest, greatest app fades into memory and something new takes its place.” (Heitner, 2018)

She goes on to say that it’s our job as their parents and teachers “to be their mentor and support as they navigate the challenges of connected life … and to remember that you are the most important screenwise model for your kids.”

With this information, we can engage with our children and lead them as they grow with the digital world. 

Getting Started 

Maybe you’ve been reading aloud to your kids for years, but you’ve never considered the digital component; maybe you’re looking into social-emotional learning for the first time, or perhaps you’re just now awakening to all of the possibilities that read-aloud books can offer children! Either way, congratulations! You’ve taken the first step to help your child thrive. 

So you know that you want to get started with Storybook apps, but where do you look first?

The New Zoy App

Perhaps you have heard the buzz that we’re creating a groundbreaking new app (congrats on being cool, by the way). Well, it’s true! Zoy’s brand new storybook app is launching this fall with an ever-increasing catalogue of SEL books for kids. Not only that, but we’ll be offering our Calming Corner as an awesome extra bonus to Zoy’s subscribers. 

You can learn more about the power of storytelling, subscribe to our newsletter, or access a slew of parenting materials on our website. 

Are you ready to get started? Download the new Zoy app today and enjoy all the benefits as your child soars to new heights!

Resources:

  • Halah Ahmed Alismail. (2014). Integrate Digital Storytelling in Education. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(9), 126–129.
  • Verhallen, M. J. A. J., Bus, A. G., & de Jong, M. T. (2006). The promise of multimedia stories for kindergarten children at risk. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(2), 410–419. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0663.98.2.410
  • Smeets, D., & Bus, A. (2013). Picture Storybooks Go Digital: Pros and Cons. Quality Reading Instruction in the Age of Common Core Standards, 176–189. 
  • Stornaiuolo, A., Smith, A., & Phillips, N. C. (2016). Developing a Transliteracies Framework for a Connected World. Journal of Literacy Research, 49(1), 68–91. https://doi.org/10.1177/1086296×16683419
  • Heitner, D. (2018). Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World. Taylor & Francis.
  • Levy, R., Hall, M., & Preece, J. (2018). Examining the Links between Parents’ Relationships with Reading and Shared Reading with their Pre-School Children. International Journal of Educational Psychology, 7(2), 123. https://doi.org/10.17583/ijep.2018.3480
Carrie Turner
Educator, Author

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