What Is It?
HOMER Reading motivates its users by learning what their interests are and combines that with their reading level for a personalized reading plan. HOMER teaches only at the reading level your child is currently at and then enhances that level as your child grows. It’s the parent’s job to setup the personalized account for their child by entering in their name, birthdate and interests. The interests are vast and can vary anywhere from Pets, Trains, Robots, Ancient Worlds, Kindness and more. In addition to learning, HOMER Reading offers a number of fun games, cartoons and drawing features. HOMER Reading by HOMER contains thousands of lessons designed by experts and has been featured in numerous TV shows and websites such as the TODAY Show and New York Times.
Setting Up HOMER Reading
Upon launching HOMER Reading you’re notified that your sound is off, this is a smart feature for kids and parents who aren’t tech-savvy who might be wondering why there’s no audio. You’ll then be asked if your child can match lowercase to uppercase letters, the sounds of letters, rhyming words, first letter in a word and vowels. After which your plan is personalized and depending on your answers, HOMER will direct you to the proper reading stage. In our example, it was suggested that my child will begin reading words and sentences, motivated by selected interests and spell short words. However if you’re not content with the suggested stage, HOMER allows you to choose other learning stages from Toddler, Preschool, Pre-K and onwards.
When you’re finished with your setup, HOMER prompts you to start a trial. It’s a free, 30-day trial, after this you’ll be looking at $7.99 US/month which includes both the HOMER Reading and HOMER Stories apps. For added security, I liked that HOMER asks your age before confirming.
Playing and Learning
Once your setup is complete, you’re then greeted with a gamified Learning Path with stages and we tried the first level for this review which ends at the big yellow star. On the first stage, based on our interests, my child was asked to distinguish uppercase letters from lowercase.
After completing this, stage two’s ‘What Come’s Next’ was a simple picture order game where we had to place 4 birthday cake pictures in the correct order from receiving it to eating it. The illustrations and the talking monkey guiding you through the process was a nice touch.
The third stage was a power word cartoon with ‘Cake’ as the theme. The cartoon’s quality was very professional, with fluid animation and sound effects. We enjoyed the humour as the server with the cake tried different ways to serve cake while continuously saying “Caaaake!”
The first level had 4 learning games which were very simple to complete and the second level had 10 games which started to get a little more challenging but it was subtle enough not to deter my son away. For example the first game in the second level had him pressing a green button if he thought a word sounded the same as others – such as ‘pan’ and ‘pin’. I imagine as he learns and grows, this particular game could get more challenging so that the words asked are something like ‘their’ and ‘they’re’.
I was impressed with the production quality of the stages and the narrative, humorous approach to learning. The female voice over quality is very good in HOMER Reading, including the lip synching of the characters to the voice. The talking monkey mascot adds a lot of depth and will guide you through the steps, then remind you of the steps you took to complete it in a recap. Its a pleasing educational app that doesn’t try to hard or is bogged down with a distracting interface. The artwork, characters and overall feel is similar to the hit TV show, Dora the Explorer and should appeal to many children and parents!
HOMER Reading contains a Practice Mode which is a collection of fun games to try if your child wants a break from learning letters and numbers. I’m sure we all can relate to the short attention span that children have! There’s an option to place animals in a scene, a drawing/painting feature which seems to have a simple interface, stories with voiceover and sound effects, cartoons to learn each letter of the alphabet and finally more games such as Memory, Same or Different and Hear the Word. My son seemed to enjoy these side-game so much that he had forgotten about the learning stages that he was working on.
About the Company
HOMER, the company behind the app produces quality content and believes that children should explore their interests and passions in order to be confident and motivated learners. They have proven learning programs designed by experts in the educational field. HOMER focuses on educational development for children aged 2-8 years old.
What We Liked
- The ability to add more than 1 child with up to 4 – this is a great feature
- The production quality on the cartoons and voiceover
- Learning mode feature that caters to your child’s skill level
- Entertainment value
What We Didn’t Like
- I felt there needed to be a skip button on the learning segments that played a video in addition to just scrubbing through the timeline
- Sometimes the monkey’s mouth wouldn’t move while the female voiceover was heard, I was confused by this but it’s a minor thing
- Not able to view entire learning path and levels
HOMER Reading: Learn to Read is packed with entertainingly educational features that kept us coming back for more. With so many ways to learn, have fun, and an enticing learning path all focused around your child’s skill level, it’s one of the best educational apps out there for kids.