UPDATE (8/2/2018): With a new school year about to start, Amazon is making it a little easier to get your kid excited about reading. Its Amazon Rapids library of short stories, first introduced in 2016 and previously $2.99 per month, is now free.
“With access to hundreds of stories for free and features like the built-in glossary and Read Along, Amazon Rapids is a great way to encourage young readers and build their confidence,” the company said in a statement. The Read Along feature reads the story out loud so your kid can listen and follow along.
If you have an Alexa-enabled device, you might also want to check out the free Amazon Storytime skill, which offers a collection of professionally narrated short stories for kids ages 5 through 12, including stories from the Rapids app. To try it out, just say “Alexa, tell me a bedtime story.”
Original Story (11/2/16):
Know a reader aged 7 to 12? Amazon has something special for them.
The Web giant on Wednesday introduced Rapids, a new reading app for kids. This isn’t like every other reading app, though: On Rapids, the illustrated short stories are written in a unique chat style, so the action unfolds one message at a time.
The stories “are told through the lens of characters chatting with each other, from an alien texting about invading Earth to two chickens debating if they should cross the street,” Amazon says.
The app is available for iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire devices. It offers hundreds of original stories, with dozens of new ones planned to be added monthly. Kids can choose from lots of different types of stories including adventure, fantasy, humor, mystery, science fiction, and sports. Stories cover a variety of topics, “from a grandma invading her granddaughter’s group chat to a duck taking over a rooster’s duties on a farm,” Amazon says.
All content is “thoughtfully edited” to be age appropriate and there’s a built-in glossary so kids can easily look up the definition and pronunciation of words. Each time they look up a word, it is automatically added to their personal glossary for easy reference. There’s also a “read to me” mode, which lets kids follow along with the text and hear the story.
Interested? You can sign up now for a two-week free trial to see if your little reader likes it. If they do, you can get a subscription for the “special introductory rate” of $2.99 per month.
Earlier this year, Amazon added a slew of new content for older kids to the subscription-based FreeTime Unlimited, an “all-you-can-eat” content service tailored specifically for kids. Previously, FreeTime Unlimited, which costs $2.99 a month for Prime members and $4.99 per month for everyone else, mostly offered content for kids ages 3 through 8.