Android/iOS: My six-year-old has started reading YouTube videos, and I’m cool with it. She’s using a free children’s reading app called Rivet, which was just released. Rivet has a digital library of more than 2,000 books, ranging from a mythical tale about Pegasus to a guide to clouds.
There’s also a collection of “YouTube books,” which caught my attention: Rivet has teamed up with several popular kid and family YouTubers to turn their videos into books.
Here’s one based on a video by the GEM Sisters.
As a parent, my first reaction was, “Holy heck, what is this?” These are the types of YouTube videos I’ve made my daughter stop watching—the ones where people narrate the imaginary lives of baby dolls or play with glitter slime for hours. They’re annoying, and I think they do weird things to her brain. But after clicking through a few of the “books,” I’ve realised that when the videos are stripped down to just images and text, they’re fine. Sure, the content isn’t precisely Caldecott-level literature, but it’s comparable to what you’d find in another simple “learn to read” titles. There are no links to the videos themselves, from what I’ve seen. If a YouTube book collection immerses your kids in words and stories, I’d say let them go at it, as long as you keep reading lots of physical books together, too.
Rivet has a clean, playful interface, and keeps kids engaged by rewarding them with points and badges. Kids can read the words aloud, and if they stumble, an assistant will offer support (this feature is available on Android, and coming to iOS soon). They can also tap on words they get stuck on, learn the definitions of each term and receive personalized recommendations for further reading based on their interests and skill level.
The creators write that “protecting user data, and especially data from children, is core to our mission,” noting that the app closely follows COPPA best practices and does not store children’s voice data. In the coming months, Rivet will add content for a wider range of reading levels (right now, the focus is on kindergarten to second grade) and introduce classroom features.
If you’re planning to attend a kid’s birthday party, or if Christmas is around the corner, you may need to start thinking about finding the best gifts for kids that are age appropriate. Below we have listed a summary of the two best gift ideas for kids aged between one and eight years old to take a lot of the hard work out of the selection process.
Best Gifts for one-year-olds:
The two best gifts for kids of this age are Plush Toys and a Bucket and Spade. The critical features to look for in Plush Toys are softness, short fur, flashing lights, unique sounds, and preferably a big smile with engaging eyes on the toy. The talking Elmo is often the most popular of the plush toys but is at the more expensive end. In terms of a bucket and spade, go for a small set at this age with a short handle on the shovel, so they can dig little holes and build sandcastles. If sand is flying in every direction from the spade, the kit will usually have a small rake in it as well which you can swap for the spade. A bucket and spade are one of the best value gifts that you can buy for kids, typically costing under $10.
Best Gifts for 2-year-olds:
The two best gifts for a two-year-old are a Kid’s Car and a Bubble Machine. A small plastic kid’s car where children can open the door, sit in and push around with their feet is a big winner. Hopefully, there is also a horn for kids to toot, a key to start the car and a petrol cap for when they feel it’s time to refuel. Kids will have a year or two of fun with this, whereas many other toys for this age group are played with for only hours. The second idea of a Bubble Machine is an inexpensive present (<$20) that gets lots of kids active chasing bubbles around the outdoors. Most kids will like to pick up a bat or stick for extra reach to swat the higher bubbles. Just make sure you have plenty of bubble mixture as it can run out quickly. Great for kids parties, Christmas events as well.