The Beginner's Bible

My two-year-old has his own group of age-appropriate apps on my iPad (quickly becoming the "family" iPad). In his group we have placed some of his favorite games, like Angry Birds and ABCs, and several Bible-based children's apps. The newest addition is The Beginner's Bible, which I've been asked to review by Zondervan.

First, let me share how Gabe uses it. Lately when I give him the iPad, he will go directly to the Beginner's Bible. This surprises me, because he used to have a different favorite. Maybe he's just open to new and different experiences. But he will open it up and click on the "Read" button, which will offer him six colorful stories from Genesis to choose from. He'll press one of them and listen as it reads aloud to him.

In each picture next to the text, a reader can make something happen. It's sort of a hidden feature meant to surprise the kids. Touch an animal and he'll move; move the circle and watch the sun rise and set. Some of the animations are super-simple, but they seem to delight Gabe nonetheless.

He keeps trying to swipe the page to make it turn. There is a small button which, when pressed, will turn the page; otherwise, it doesn't turn until the narrator is finished. This frustrates Gabe a little, so he'll skip the story and move to "Play." The same six colorful boxes appear, but this time they are puzzles or coloring pages. He loves puzzles and will stick with those for a long time. The colorful pictures really appeal to him.

Those two features pretty much sum up the Beginner's Bible app. For toddlers like Gabe, I think it works. Vibrant colors, simple user interface, basic Bible stories ... all these make the free version easy and fun to use. I do not foresee him continuing to use it past 3 or 4 years old, especially since I do not plan to purchase any more stories.

Purchase? Yes, more "Story Packs" can be bought in groups of six: 6 stories, 3 coloring pages, 2 puzzles, & 1 "bonus activity." So far I see only one new pack available, but I presume they continue to develop more to keep kids learning about Old and New Testament characters and events.

Zondervan has produced an attractive app suitable for small children whose parents allow them access to the tablet. It's simplicity and dearth of features make it both easy to use and easy to put down. Perhaps if they added more activities, the Beginner Bible app would have more staying power.