What do you get when you combine the artistic magic of Mario Paint with the creative prowess of Spore? You get Itzabitza, a new online reading game for kids. Sprouting up at a retailer near you (also available for online download), Itzabitza aims to change the way kids learn to read. The idea is to make reading such an incidental part of a fun interactive adventure, kids barely notice that they are practicing reading. Why will this online reading game for kids succeed where so many have failed? For me, the most magical aspect of Itzabitza lies in it’s non-linear, choose-your-own-adventure mentality. By focusing on reading as a method for creation and quest, literacy becomes a tool for discovery, not dry repetition. This fact alone may be just the key young readers need to overcome their reading insecurities.
Here’s how it works: The premise of the game is five fabulously vivid interactive universes where kids use a technology called Living Ink to build objects that come to life. A scribbly square buzzes to life as a furniture-filled house. A lumpy circle bursts into a night sky filled with moon and stars with the click of a button. Kids delight as flowers, squirrels, and mailboxes sprout up in their sketched designs.
Check out the Itzabitza trailer here: Itzabitza Trailer
How does the reading component come in? The game features narrated instructions (spoiler alert: the voice is the creator’s daughter) designed to help kids string words together. Because many burgeoning readers are able to recognize individual words, this online reading game aids reading by helping them understand how words connect together in a fluid sentence. By mousing over individual words, they hear the sentence pronounced how it should be read. The sentences get increasingly sophisticated via a series of star challenges, an ongoing theme throughout the game.
Overall, if you are looking for a good Christmas gift for kids under $20-that also has an educational component-score points with parents and kids with this addictive new reading game Itzabitza.