Living Books (series)

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The Living Books series was a series of interactive animated multimedia children's books produced by Brøderbund and distributed on CD-ROM for Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows. The series began with the release of Just Grandma and Me (an adaptation of the book by Mercer Mayer) in 1992; other titles in the series included The Tortoise and the Hare, Arthur's Teacher Trouble (and other adaptations of books by Marc Brown), Dr. Seuss and Berenstain Bears titles. [1]

Living Books became quite popular in the mid-1990s and were even used in some classrooms to teach English. Some home-computer users reported purchasing CD-ROM drives and sound cards specifically to run Living Books.

Many of them had selections for other languages, namely Spanish and Japanese.

The series did have an official website,,[1] but after the series was canceled by Broderbund, the site was up for grabs and bought by Scholastic. It was then converted into a jungle book series website that sold books published by Scholastic.

CD-ROMs in the series[edit | edit source]

NOTES: † = Only English is available as a language for that Living Books Program. Just Grandma and Me is the only Living Books Program to have more than 2 languages (English, Spanish, and Japanese). In the new edition, however, the languages are English, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Chinese, German, French and Spanish. Some Living Books in Britain have English, French and German as the languages.

Just Grandma and Me (1992)

Arthur's Teacher Trouble (1992)

The New Kid on the Block (1993)†

The Tortoise and the Hare (1993)

Ruff's Bone (1994)

Little Monster at School (1994)

Arthur's Birthday (1994)

Harry and the Haunted House (1994)

The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight (1995)

Dr. Seuss's ABC (1995)†

Stellaluna (1996)†

Green Eggs and Ham (1996)†

The Berenstain Bears in the Dark (1996)†

Sheila Rae, the Brave (1996)

Arthur's Reading Race (1997)†

The Cat in the Hat (1997)†

Arthur's Computer Adventure (1998)†

D.W. The Picky Eater (1998)†

All in all, there were 18 CD-ROMs in the series. Only some are well-known.

How to Play[edit | edit source]

  • Read to Me button

Has a story read to you.

  • Let me Play button

Takes you to the story and lets you play there.

  • Options button

Takes you to the Options menu where you can see the credits, and the demos.

  • Quit button

Closes Living Books and returns you to your computer desktop.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Publishers Weekly, in a review of Dr. Seuss' ABC, called that title "one of the best children's CD-ROMs to date" and stated that, "[...] the producers' fondness for Dr. Seuss and their fidelity to his sense of refined silliness spill into every sequence."[2] Simson L. Garfinkel and Beth Rosenberg found that the CD-ROMs played better on Macs than on PCs. Although they found the titles to be of high quality in a market flooded with "questionable" releases for children, they stated that not all of them lived up to the company's educational claims (noting Dr. Seuss' ABC and Arthur's reading Race as exceptions) and felt that the added dialogue supplementing the book's text was sometimes "out of character".[3] Arthur's Teacher Trouble, The Tortoise and the Hare, Ruff's Bone, and Little Monster at School all received a very high score of over 90.00 in the book CD-ROMs Rated by Les Kranz; in the review for Little Monster at School, the graphics and the number of clickable areas were described as positives.[4]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. archive image of website in 1997 for example
  2. "Multimedia Reviews: Dr. Seuss' ABC". Publishers Weekly (New York: Cahners Publishing Company) 242 (35): 41. 1995-08-28. ISSN 0000-0019. 
  3. Garfinkel, Simson L.; Beth Rosenberg (1998-02-05). Bringing kids' books to life. Boston Globe Online. Globe Newspaper Company. Retrieved on 2009-11-02
  4. Kranz, Les (1994). CD-ROMs Rated: A Guide to the Best and Worst CD ROMs & Multimedia Titles. Laura L. Armer, Adrienne Brown, Joel Gershon, and Pamela Thomasson (Senior Reviewers), and Marjorie Glass, Brian Harrison, Douglas W, Horner, Corolyn Huesman, Dan Laxton, Vivian Laxton, and Josh Sinton (Reviewers). McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07912052-0. 

External links[edit | edit source]

  • McMath, Chuck. "THE LIVING BOOKS Series by Living Books/Broderbund." Game Bytes Vol 1. Num. 21. 1994. "Series Review". Retrieved March 24, 2007.
  • "Behind the Scenes at Broderbund's Living Books" Read article. May 25, 1993. Retrieved October 15, 2008.
  • Living Books Complete Catalogue Visit site