“Amazon Rapids” comes with interactive stories told through a format that Amazon believes will capture the attention of smartphone-obsessed children: dialogue between two characters that looks like a lot like a chat thread.
Amazon.com has engineered a new way to keep kids occupied with a tablet or a smartphone while encouraging them to read.
“Amazon Rapids,” an app that costs $2.99 per month, comes with interactive stories told through a format that might seem familiar to the smartphone-obsessed young: a running dialogue between two characters that looks like a lot like a chat thread. It’s designed for kids between 7 and 12.
The move is Amazon’s latest foray in the field of education. The company this year scored a big contract with New York City schools to provide them with a dedicated marketplace for e-books. In June, it launched a search service that lets teachers find lesson plans and other educational materials.
Michael Robinson, director of consumer products at Amazon Education, said the stories are short — between 500 and 700 words, or five to 10 minutes of reading. The child controls the pace of the story by tapping on the screen, and can have the app read along.
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“We provide support for independent reading,” Robinson said.
If kids don’t know a word, they can hold their finger over the screen and a definition pops up.
The app contains “hundreds of stories” and there will be “dozens more added monthly,” Robinson said. The writers and the artists are selected by Amazon.
The app is available on iOS, Android and Fire devices.