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Review: ‘Britannica Kids: U. S. Presidents’

When you load this app onto your classroom or library iPad make sure you have a copy of  Ann Bausum’s Our Country’s Presidents (National Geographic, 2009), James David Barber’s Presidents (DK, 2009), and other appealing, up-to-date titles about U.S. history on your bookshelves, and chances are your students will be discussing presidents long past November. Britannica Kids: U.S. Presidents has a built-in quiz for readers, which is likely to spur children to try to stump each other on the facts.

Screen shot from 'U.S. Presidents' (Encyclopaedia Britannica) MEDL Mobile

Title: U.S. Presidents
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.
Britannica Kids
Developed by:
MEDL Mobile, Inc.
iOS, requires 4.3 or later

Gr 3-6-Who was the first U.S. president to be elected with no prior political experience? The only president to serve two terms that weren’t back to back? The president that died after two months in office? Students can discover the answers to these and other questions in this introduction to the 44 men who have held the office of U.S. president.

Opening with a rendition of  “Hail to the Chief” and a photo of President Barack Obama, the app prompts students to “Get Started.” On the next screen, images of the presidents appear in chronological order by term. Tapping one of these pictures leads to a page with additional tabs, behind which are snippets about the subject’s vice president, First Lady, and birth date, and a fun fact. Navigation is easy: a tap to the back button or swipe to the screen will change the page.

Other informational options include a “Did You Know?” page that presents photos and factoids on such landmarks as Mount Rushmore and Camp David, the lyrics of  “Hail to the Chief,” and a (timed) quiz where students can test their knowledge on presidential topics. Unfortunately, in subsequent quiz play, the questions remain the same, merely appearing in a different order.

It should be noted that “Other Games” and “Extras” icons will send viewers to promotional and sales information for Encyclopaedia Britannica and MEDL Mobile apps. Students may expect more depth from an app with the “Britannica” moniker,  but will nonetheless enjoy exploring this title. It may even encourage them to learn more about our country’s presidents and history.—Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH