VOX Books Offers Kids an Immersive Reading Experience

Three products from VOX make reading an interactive and, above all, fun experience.

Grade Level K-4

Billed by Library Ideas as the “world’s first audio books that live in print books,” VOX Books have been in use for a few years, and the catalogue is rapidly expanding. These hardcover books come with an embedded audio reader and a jack for users to plug in headphones. The audio reader runs on a battery that can be recharged with the included charger. Users can open the book, press “play,” and follow along with the words in the book. The books are exceptionally durable, surviving even the inevitable crush of the book drop. Recharging the battery is quick and easy, and the battery lasts for several days on a charge. VOX Books are quite manageable for checkout either in a school or public library.

More than 350 titles are currently available, with more being added. Popular titles include Gaia Cornwall’s Jabari Jumps, Jory John’s The Good Egg, and the “Blastoff Readers!” nonfiction series. The collection includes bilingual titles in Spanish, Mandarin, Tagalog, French, German, Russian, Korean, and Arabic. Six Spanish and six Mandarin titles are released each quarter, and books in new languages are being planned for future release.

Narrators are lively and will keep readers engaged. Educators can use VOX Books to help early or struggling readers learn to pronounce words, hold a book and turn pages, and practice tracking text from left to right. This is a valuable tool not only for libraries but also for teachers to use in the classroom and for parents to use at home.

VERDICT Featuring varied, continually updated titles that will appeal to children, VOX Books are a fun way to promote reading and could very well be some of the most circulated items in a library. Recommended purchase for children’s libraries that will be immensely popular with patrons.


Grade Level PreS-Gr 3

Available in iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire, iVOX is a new reading app that may be downloaded on phones and tablets. Twenty-five titles are currently available, and more are on the way.

Once users download the iVOX app, they can enter their library credentials to pull up the catalogue. Users then tap on a book; the opening graphic depicts the book on a table in what appears to be a child’s bedroom. The book then opens to a 3D scene on each page. The magic begins as a narrator reads the text and users watch the action unfold.

iVOX offers a truly immersive experience. A sound effect prompts children to turn each page, and they can turn their device around to see the action from different angles. Children may want to hear the story read several times to see it from the various angles.

The 3D graphics are a bit rudimentary, but that will likely improve with the development of the app.

This would be a suitable app to use with students in a classroom or library for individual reading time. The educational value and reinforcement of literacy far outweighs any argument against children using devices.

VERDICT This new app has a great deal of possibilities for development and is a strong purchase for a library to add to its digital collection.


Grade Level 1 PreS-Gr 3; Level 2 Gr 3-8

IR Books combine innovative VR and AR technology with children’s books. These books are nonfiction, focused on STEM and geography, and each book includes one augmented reality and two virtual reality experiences. The hardcover books are meant to be read with included cardboard goggles; if needed, more goggles are available for separate purchase. Currently, IR Books program has 18 titles, with more forthcoming.

Once the IR Books app is downloaded (free and available on iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire), users can either watch in 2D on a phone or tablet, or they can use the goggles for the full experience. VR and AR effects are activated by a QR code at the beginning of the book. When readers get to a page with one of the VR or AR elements, there is another QR code that they access through the app. Children then use the goggles to see and hear more information. For instance, a book about great white sharks plunges users underwater to view a shark in its habitat. Along with the video of the creature and its surroundings, users can hear facts about the shark. It’s an immersive, enjoyable experience.

The goggles are easy to assemble and can be cleaned. IR Books are best used for monitored in-library programming, as it does not appear that the goggles would survive checkout. However, users can still check out the books and either use them with another set of VR goggles at home or use the 2D part of the app.

VERDICT IR Books are useful products for either active teaching or for free reading. They offer an enjoyable way for users to learn about STEM subjects and geography in both school and public libraries.

Shannan L. Hicks is the library services ­director at the William F. Laman Public ­Library in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

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