Android/iOS: My six-year-old has started reading YouTube videos, and I’m cool with it. She’s using a free children’s reading app called Rivet, which was just released. Rivet has a digital library of more than 2,000 books, ranging from a mythical tale about Pegasus to a guide to clouds.
There’s also a collection of “YouTube books,” which caught my attention: Rivet has teamed up with a number of popular kid and family YouTubers to turn their videos into books.
Here’s one based on a video by the GEM Sisters.
And here’s another one from Lil’ Monkey Media.
As a parent, my first reaction was, “Holy heck, what is this?” These are the types of YouTube videos I’ve made my daughter stop watching—the ones where people narrate the imaginary lives of baby dolls or play with glitter slime for hours. They’re annoying, and I think they do weird things to her brain. But after clicking through a few of the “books,” I’ve realized that when the videos are stripped down to just images and text, they’re fine. Sure, the content isn’t exactly Caldecott-level literature, but it’s comparable to what you’d find in other simple “learn to read” titles. There are no links to the videos themselves, from what I’ve seen. If a YouTube book collection immerses your kids in words and stories, I’d say let them go at it, as long as you keep reading lots of physical books together, too.
Rivet has a clean, playful interface, and keeps kids engaged by rewarding them with points and badges. Kids can read the words aloud, and if they stumble, an assistant will offer support (this feature is available on Android, and coming to iOS soon). They can also tap on words they get stuck on, learn the definitions of each term and receive personalized recommendations for further reading based on their interests and skill level.
The creators write that “protecting user data, and especially data from children, is core to our mission,” noting that the app closely follows COPPA best practices and does not store children’s voice data. In the coming months, Rivet will add content for a wider range of reading levels (right now, the focus is on kindergarten to second grade) and introduce classroom features.