Review: Dr Seuss Cat in the Hat app
I have read Dr Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham more times than I can count, and as a child I forced others to read it to me equally as much. There is just something about the wacky illustrations, the silly rhymes and comical storyline that appealed to me, and to other children no doubt, as Theodor Seuss Geisel's 44 children's books have sold an estimated 300 million copies, making him one of the best-selling American authors of all time.
Today, children can enjoy animated renditions of these fantastical storybooks on an iPad, and this week I did just that. Published by Oceanhouse Media, The Cat in the Hat iPad app features the characteristic artwork alongside a faithful rendering of Seuss' original storyline. For those who haven't read it (shame on you), the story details the feline fun had by Sally and her brother on a rainy day, while their mom is away.
Keeping it simple
Comprising just 250 words, The Cat in the Hat is rather a simple story, and the guys at Oceanhouse have kept the app version of this tale pretty simple, too. There are no gimmicks or fancy additions. Users have the option to read the story themselves or have the story read to them, allowing one to control when the pages are turned. In addition, there is an Auto Play function, which does everything for you. There are also sound effects, which transport the reader to the house where the action takes place on that "cold, cold, wet day".
By tapping on the blue arrow in the bottom-left corner, users have the option of changing the mode and turning off the sound effects or read alerts. There is also an option to select pages, so readers can easily pick up where they left off.
Oceanhouse has added a Record and Share option, which allows users to record their own voices while they read. The recordings can be used to enjoy the books in Read to Me mode and can also be shared with family and friends via e-mail.
In addition, the app recommends other popular Seuss titles, as well as the free Dr Seuss Bookshelf app, which allows for easy organisation and purchasing of additional Dr Seuss tales.
In the 1950s, the US faced a literary crisis, as children were not successfully learning how to read. Authors and editors attributed this to the low quality of educational reading material, which featured the non-adventures of characters "Dick and Jane". At the time, kids just weren't interested in the material and this hampered their efforts to learn to read. Dr Seuss was commissioned by a publisher to create a book that a first grader couldn't put down, and in 1957, he introduced what would become one of his most famous works, The Cat in the Hat.
The Cat in the Hat iPad app supports Seuss' educational endeavours, as it truly is a reading tool. At any time, children can tap on a word or object to have it read aloud to them. This is useful in the Read it Myself mode, as children can simply tap on words they don't know and have them read aloud, aiding learning. In the Auto Play and Read to Me modes, the words light up as they are read by the narrator so children can follow the story. By double tapping on the text, children can have the paragraph reread to them.
Consider this iPad app Dr Seuss 2.0. His stories were great in the 50s, they were equally great when I was a kid, and today, through the magic of technology, they are coming to life. Oceanhouse Media has stayed true to Seuss' charm, adding a few extras that aid learning and will have children entertained for hours on end.