I was recently contacted by Historical Heroes, who told me all about their fabulous new concept in kids' educational apps. I couldn't suppress a smile when I read about what prompted the creation of the app : "The series of apps was inspired by the realisation that my eight year old niece looked up to Rhianna as a role model. Young people could do with having role models that are genuine heroes, not just young women on TV not wearing much clothing (Rhianna, Taylor Swift, etc)." Well, you can't argue with that !
Anne Frank is an excellent choice of role model, both for what she represents and for the fact that this year commemorates the 70th anniversary of both VE Day and Anne Frank's death. The app aims to introduce children to people who have overcome adversity in their lives, to help motivate them to strive to achieve their own goals, whilst educating them on characters they will encounter in the national curriculum.
The press release explained : "Inspired by the historical fiction of Robert Harris, we have retold the story of Anne Frank as an engaging story: complete with animations, a timeline and a quiz." It sounded fantastic on paper so I scuttled off to download it and have a look with the Madhouse kids.
My first impression was that it is very text heavy. You'd need to be a confident and enthusiastic reader to be drawn into a page full of text with no pictures or even colours to break it up. I was also surprised to see that there wasn't a "read to me" option, as there is with most kids' e-books or reading apps, so for younger readers, parents need to be prepared to take time to sit down and read along with their children.
The animations are very low key - if you tap on the photos, they swivel round to reveal a caption, and the opening chapter page above, for example, has aeroplanes flying across the screen. I must admit, I was expecting more. The story itself is well written but I felt that it needed more visual impact to draw young readers in and keep them wanting more.
At the end, there is a timeline that helps put things in place and consolidate all of the factual information that has just been read.
The final component is an interactive quiz which really appealed to the Madhouse kids. This interactivity is something that should have been exploited throughout the whole app because it makes it much more enjoyable and motivating.
Overall, we thought it was a great concept but the app needs to be made more attractive to children with more animation, pictures, colour and interactivity. The girls enjoyed learning about Anne Frank but thought it was quite hard work and did get bored and put off by the pages of solid text.
The next app in the series will focus on Florence Nightingale, another great role model who will reveal another important era in British and world history.
The apps cost £3.99 which is quite expensive for what they are, but you need to think of them as an educational e-book rather than just entertainment. I also love the fact that 10% of all profits will go to an associated charity : UNICEF for Anne Frank and British Red Cross for Florence Nightingale.
star rating : 3/5
RRP : £3.99
for more information : http://historicalheroes.co.uk/
Disclosure : We received a download code in order to write an honest review.