Perhaps there’s some irony writing about it as an app reviewer, but encouraging children to read books can be a difficult process.
The Reading Log app aims to help, by letting kids keep a record of what they’ve read and how long it took them.
We all know from video games that arbitrary achievement-based goals can inspire you to spend hours on something you might not necessarily enjoy.
This is at least partly the mentality behind reading logs, where the search for knowledge and understanding gets reduced to a catalogue of quantifiable successes.
Reading Log lets you do that – each book added is another notch in your belt, every minute added to your reading time can be treated like another point added to your score.
You can either type in the book’s details or scan the ISBN number, which is a handy feature – although to do so you need to install a separate barcode scanner app, and I have a deep pathological distrust of any app that makes you download another app before it does the things it promised you.
When typing in a book’s details I found the layout to be a little awkward, and you need some very precise scrolling technique to be able to get to the next part where you add your page count. It works, but it doesn’t work well.
The app also allows you to send a copy of the reading log (or just a portion – the details for one book, say) as an email attachment. This is where I got a little confused. Is the child sending this to their parent?
I had kind of assumed the app was for the parent. If it’s for the child, its interface could use some streamlining. But maybe it is for the parent, and they just want to send themselves a copy so they can print it off and stick it on the fridge or something. I’ll accept that.
If your child needs encouragement to read, and is young enough that a reading log imposed by their parents is going to have any positive effect, then I wonder if this app isn’t going to be too complicated for them to use.
But if the app is meant to be for the parent to use, then I wonder what purpose it actually serves – except for the familiar ‘it’s exactly what you could always do easily on paper – but now it’s on your phone!’ argument, which in this case I feel doesn’t carry that much weight.
But I could be wrong, and of course every child, every family, every learning style is different. If this app gets your kid to read more, whether it’s because they’re using it or you are, then that can’t be a bad thing. Perhaps it’s worth a go.