If your family travel plans include a road trip this summer, you may be dreading the hours in the car with wails of “Are we there yet?” and “How much longer?” Tech gadgets and portable DVD players can entertain kids but they miss seeing the scenery. That may not matter much if your travels include a boring highway, but if you want your kids to take in the sites while being entertained, License Plate Bingo used to be your only option.
The developers at Tales2Go had a better idea for enriching the experience of a long car ride. They created an app that will not only entertain your kids, but educate them as well, all while allowing them to view the passing scenery. Their app brings thousands of children’s audiobooks to your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
I interviewed William Weil, the co-founder and CEO of Tales2Go, who said, “My wife and I were so taken with audiobooks for car rides with the kids, we started a company.”
Tales2Go is somewhat like Netflix for children’s audiobooks. You get a free trial period after which you can buy a subscription, either by the month or the year. You can listen to as many stories as you want on up to five different devices.
Tales2Go works with major audiobook publishers and has won many awards, including the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, the National Parenting Publications Gold Award and others. The app has over 2000 titles with more being added daily. Here is a link to its list of stories: Tales2Go Stories.
Tales2Go is currently available in the US and Canada, with plans to expand internationally. “(We are) doing some deals now to add Spanish language stories and hope to be multi-language here and abroad,” said Weil.
The stories are streamed, as Netflix movies are, so you have to be connected to the Internet to get a story onto your device. But unlike a Netflix movie, a Tales2Go story can be saved within a few seconds. Once a story is on your device, you can listen to it without being connected so long as you don’t close your app. You can even listen to it in the background when you have another app open on your screen.
Currently you can only save one story on your device, but according to Weil, Tales2Go has plans by the end of 2012 to increase the number of stories you can save.
Benefits of Listening to Audiobooks
You can also use Tales2Go to help your children enjoy books at home. If you have children who are struggling readers, audiobooks may help open up the world of books to them. According to Tales2Go, “listening to stories exposes kids to vocabulary, builds critical listening and comprehension skills and generally excites kids about literature.”
Schools also can use Tales2Go to help children who need extra help with reading or have vision issues. According to its website:
a recent study showed a measurable increase in student achievement when a listening component was added to reading instruction. Since oral language precedes written language, students are naturally and effectively able to build vocabulary by listening (i.e. vocabulary is at the foundation of reading comprehension).
Using the App
This video from Tales2Go shows how the app works:
As shown in the video, you can search for stories by the title, author or storyteller, by age, by highest rated, most popular and by other categories.
You can add a bookmark to a story and add stories to your Favorites list. The app currently syncs this information between your devices, but this will change in the future. According to Weil, “Since we do a growing business in schools (and parents have requested it), we will soon move Bookmarks and Favorites to be stored on each device.”
After you listen to a story, you can rate it to help others discover great stories and help Tales2Go suggest books you might like.
Note that if you’re using cellular data to access Tales2Go stories, you might want to pay attention to your data usage. The stories use much less data than a Netflix video and Weils said that they have never received any complaints about their app using too much data. If you want to monitor your data usage, see suggestions in Mind the Cap!
In addition to bringing Tales2Go to other countries and other languages, Weil has other plans for the future. Tales2Go is now only available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, but that will change soon. Weil said, “We should have a desktop version in place by the end of June and Android available by Fall.”
As a big audiobook fan, I asked Weil about bringing Tales2Go some stories for adults. He responded, “There are many classics on Tales2Go that appeal to the whole family, but our focus is kids (3 to tween).”
I tried Tales2Go, taking advantage of the free 30 day trial period, and listened to Lost on a Mountain in Maine, the story of a 12-year-old boy who survived for nine days in the wilderness. The story was enthralling and the quality of the audio production was outstanding, making me a quick fan of Tunes2Go.
iTunes App Store
Tales2Go app is available for free for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch in the iTunes App Store. A 30 day trial comes free with the app, after which you can buy a subscription for $9.99/month or $99.99/year. Bulk pricing for schools is available at discounted rates.
Whether you’re looking to entertain kids on a road trip, to help a young reader, or to listen to great stories, check out Tales2Go.
Do you enjoy audiobooks? Are you looking for entertainment for your kids for an upcoming road trip? Let us know in the Comments section below!