I’ve always been a fan of the Disney “book” applications for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. I wrote a little about them in my 5 Apps that make my toddlers happy, but this particular App is different from the ones up to this point. The Lighting Was here App adds some interactive elements that really take it over the top.
Right to the point of why I love these Disney book Apps; my kids love them. My kids love to read, or to read along rather. They are just at the beginning of their reading lives and it is very important for them to read along and to know what words are being spoken. This is where the Disney books for the iPad shine. As they read along, they are highlighting each word as it’s being said unlike some other read along Apps that I have found that highlight the entire sentence. This is important because at their age (4). They need to see each word highlighted individually as they hear it in order to grasp what is being said. Also I find that they really enjoy turning the pages themselves so the ability to disable “auto turn” is a nice feature.
Usually the Disney books include some sort of light animation to coincide with the text, which this App delivers on as well, but Disney also added a few more elements to make this App a lot more interactive and fun for the kids. First they added a picture hunt throughout the game. Along your trip through Radiator Springs with Lightning McQueen there are semi hidden “decals” for you to collect. To collect them all you have to do is tap on the picture (which is usually out of place enough for the kids to realize that it is different and must be a decal) sending it flying off of the page presumably to your decal wallet which you will tap into later in the story. Midway through the book you come to one of two interactive jigsaw puzzles. Tapping the screen will scatter the pieces leaving you to reassemble them to form the picture. This was a nice touch on Disney’s part. It breaks up the reading time and my twins loved figuring out where all of the pieces went to continue with the story. This happens once more throughout the book which again was a nice break in the reading. At the end you are presented with a picture of Lighting McQueen with dark shadowy shapes on his hood and fenders. You have to dig into your collected decals and place them in the correct spots to complete the story.
There are a couple of things that I would like to see changed with this App. First has to do with the highlighting of the words. For whatever reason they didn’t turn this feature on default like the rest of the Disney read along books. I had to dig into the settings to find it. Not a huge problem but still annoying in my opinion. Secondly I would like to see more options for the puzzles. They chose two of the non-main characters for the puzzles. While I thought they were fine, my kids really wanted a picture of Lightning himself, or Sally (Lightning’s Girlfriend) to have broken into a puzzle. If they gave the option of rotating the images in or out, that would be great!
All in all this is a wonderful App that is worth downloading if you have kids that are learning to read. I can’t say enough about Disney read along books, and the positive effect reading Apps like this have had on my toddlers.