Google Play Books update brings audio narration to kids titles

Children can also tap on words to activate a new dictionary.

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Google has been trying to make ebooks accessible to a wider global audience including those who are learning to read. The web giant is continuing its focus on youngsters by launching a set of audio resource tools for children's titles on Google Play Books.

Kids can now listen to a book read out loud, with the ability to turn pages automatically or manually, on titles designated for those aged up to eight years old. The popularity of audiobooks and podcasts on dedicated services such as Audible and Spotify has led to most adults listening to spoken word content, sometimes narrated by a celeb. But the thirst for vocal interpretations of literature is instilled in us from a young age through bedtime stories and read-alongs in school, which serve as the inspiration for Google's new tool.

In a separate feature aimed at boosting a child's vocabulary, users can now tap on a word in a book to hear it spoken out loud. In addition, Google is adding the ability to read or listen to thousands of kid-friendly definitions, many combined with illustrations designed to support a child's comprehension or learning. Of course, the tools aren't just for kids and can be used by all beginner readers alike.

While the new features are available on the majority of Google Play books for ages 0 to 8, you can double check whether they are enabled before buying a book by downloading a free sample first. To coincide with National Read Across America Day, Google is also giving away three ebooks, including a STEM title written by Google engineering program manager Komal Singh; Ara the Star Engineer. And a pair of Sesame Street books featuring Julia, its first autistic muppet, including We're Amazing,1-2-3! and Family Forever.