My children and I have read many books together throughout the years and some are more fondly remembered than others, but The Berenstain Bears have always been a favorite in our household, perhaps due to their wholesome appeal, traditional values, and great moral or safety lessons taught in every story.
The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks book (by Oceanhouse Media) is no different from their other great titles. This iPhone and iPad Books app is a Thanksgiving treat that will take you and your kids on a trip into the heart of Bear County throughout 38 pages of familiar artwork featuring a mellow fall setting, soft meandering music, and appropriate sounds.
This interactive book tells a seasonal story about the Berenstain Bear family and the days leading up to their special Thanksgiving gathering where they reenact The Story of the First Thanksgiving (bear-style, of course). Aside from the nice storyline, this book has several reading modes, intuitive navigation, picture/word associations, professional narration, and multiple voice recording options that can also be shared.
The story begins with a car ride out to the country for Papa bear, Sister and Brother who are delivering new furniture to Mr. & Mrs. Farmer Ben. The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks book can be enjoyed in 3 different reading modes: Read To Me, Read It Myself, and Auto Play. Personally, I prefer Auto Play because it keeps the story moving and interesting as it’s being narrated, and the pages turn automatically.
Kids can tap around on every page to reveal words (in all modes), but won’t hear them aloud in Auto Play. They will see words appear on the page for things like: pumpkins, mountains, cornfields, sky, and geese. In the Read It Myself mode, kids are free to explore and hear the words first before reading the story. In this mode, the second they tap on any object the text word is shown and heard. I enjoyed tapping around the page on all the different objects to create a variety of silly (audio and visual) echoing effects.
In the Read To Me mode, kids listen to the narration and turn pages manually by swiping. A noteworthy thing to point out is that while the narrator speaks throughout the story, kids can tap around all the pages to reveal words, but they won’t hear the words until the narration is finished. I like this aspect because the story narration and the interaction words do not overlap becoming an annoying distraction. And if you prefer not to have words present at all, there’s an option to turn them off in the Settings area. Just so you know, words are highlighted whenever narration is present and a double tap on a paragraph will play it again.
This book has a nice navigation system. Simple swipes turn pages (when not in Auto Play). A blue directional arrow icon (lower left) will lead you back to the options area to make changes (Home, Pages, Voice, Options). Any changes usually prompt the narrator to verify your actions. The “Pages” icon pulls up an index to quickly scroll through the 38 pages in this book and land you on your page of choice. The professional female narrator is pleasant, but if you prefer, there’s the option to record your own voice and save.
You can actually record and save several voice recordings to hear the story told by different people, which always adds a personal and sentimental value to these iPhone and iPad Books apps. I found that the recording function worked really well and was almost effortless to use: simply tap “Record,” “Stop” and “Play.”
In addition to recording, this app provides an opportunity to share a voice recording through email, where the recipient can import the audio file into the app by downloading it or by listening to the audio when opening the file with any audio player. I Tested the audio player function after emailing myself and received it shortly after sending, opened quickly and discovered that it works as stated.
My experience reading through The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks is that this iOS Universal book is a very well made app with a comforting and pleasant story that draws back on our early American Pilgrim roots, and serves as a wonderful reminder of the true meaning surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday: strong family bonds, people coming together, worship, and thankful hearts.
The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks iPad App Download