Highlights, the children’s media brand, and Bamboo Learning, a software company focused on educational apps, have released a storytelling Alexa skill. The skill, entitled Highlights Storybooks from Bamboo, reads 12 titles to kids and asks them questions about the stories after. Alexa can also evaluate the answer and provide feedback, while parents can view their children’s results on the Bamboo website.
Kent Johnson, CEO of Highlights for Children, said in a press release from Bamboo,
“Highlights Storybooks incorporate what families love most about Highlights – detailed, engaging content that helps kids learn and grow – and incorporates the element of voice-based interactivity which adds to both the delight and the educational benefits. We are excited to see where children’s passion for these new voice-based products will take them.”
To start using the Highlights Storybooks skill, users can say “Alexa, enable Highlights Storybooks,” access it through the Alexa app or on the Bamboo website. The titles are from three different reading levels and include:
- Enjoy the Show
- Lulu Builds a Choo-Choo
- Robin’s Best Nest
- Time for a Party
- The Skeleton Crew
among others. As studies show that reading makes kids “happier, healthier, and more empathetic,” according to the press release, this skill aims to help children become better readers and expand their vocabularies and language acquisition skills.
More Storytelling with Alexa and Google Assistant
Highlights and Bamboo are not the first companies to unleash children’s storytelling skills on popular voice assistants. Recently, Google partnered with Disney to make the Assistant read along with select Golden Books. While the parent reads the books to the children as usual, the Assistant adds sound effects and play ambient music during pauses.
In the same vein, Chooseco, a publisher of Choose Your Own Adventure books, partnered with Amazon Alexa and Audible to make their books interactive through an Alexa skill. Users can read Journey Under the Sea and The Abominable Snowman by R.A Montgomery using Amazon Alexa as of February 4th, 2019. As voice assistants are easier to use than the majority of connected devices, there is a plethora of opportunities for kids to use them with the rest of the family.