Children's Encyclopedia Software Review:    World Book 2003 - Deluxe and Ultra Deluxe Editions

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***See our review of World Book 2004 Edition here***

Top Pick. Sometimes less is more. World Book 2003 Deluxe is a fantastic starter electronic encyclopedia for kids just beginning to do research for school projects. Although it features less content than many electronic encyclopedias on the market, its articles are right on target for elementary-age children. Not only is the reading level appropriate, the program features articles that students are looking for.

There are two editions of World Book 2003: the Deluxe Edition and the Ultra Deluxe Edition. The Ultra Deluxe Edition includes the 2 CD-ROMs from the Deluxe Edition plus 5 more CD-ROMs to explore.

The main encyclopedia, contained on two CD-ROMs, opens with the splash screen pictured above. Children can choose to browse the contents in a variety of creative ways using the various browse options, such as Just Looking and Surf the Ages, or select "Topics" and begin a search for the information they need.

Pictured at left is the "Monthly Spotlight" feature. This is a great place to start browsing. If the current month is February, for example, kids can read about the February birthstone (amethyst) and choose to read more about this gemstone through the link to another article. They can read about Valentine's day, or explore that month's focus (transportation).  

Our kid tester needed to collect information for a project on the Moon in mythology. The screenshot at right shows an article about the Moon. Using the toolkit pictured on the upper left side of the screen, our student was able to highlight the information he wanted in the article. Kids can also place Sticky Notes in articles and media. Double-clicking on a word in the article pulls up a dictionary entry for the word. The built-in dictionary is great for students because it provides plenty of example sentences and the pronunciations are presented in a straightforward, understandable manner. 

Surf the Ages is a unique feature that presents simulated web sites as if the web had existed since Ancient times. Very creative! The Back in Time option presents 80 years of World Book articles, useful for exploring events described without the current perspective. Another way to browse is found in Just Looking which can be totally random or a more customized browsing. The Atlas is nicely integrated and features a distance calculator. It isn't as snazzy as the one found in Encarta, however. 

We wish the encyclopedia offered help when children don't know the exact spelling of a word. In Encarta, for example, alternate spellings appear automatically. But when kids know exactly what they're looking for, the program doesn't disappoint. The articles feature nice multimedia, which keeps interest levels high, and often point users to valuable and related information online.

This program is ideal for elementary-age children. Older kids and adults will want (or need) more information, and the best choice for them will be Encarta (see our review of Encarta 2003). However, World Book 2003 is delightfully uncomplicated and uncluttered. It has an imaginative presentation that gives it a friendly feel. In fact, gathering information can actually be a fun experience with this program. 

We think that World Book 2003 Deluxe Edition, priced at only $19.99 US, is a great buy. The Ultra Deluxe Edition includes extra CD-ROMs, but the 2 in the Deluxe Edition are more than likely enough. However, those interested in exploring more programs might find the extras worth the extra cost (the Ultra Deluxe Edition retails for $39.99 US). These CDs are: World Book Encyclopedia of Science, World Book Encyclopedia of People and Places, Science, World Book Student Dictionary, Summer Olympic Sports - The Multimedia Edition, and Eyewitness World Atlas (an older title originally published by DK).


For more information, user reviews, or to buy:  World Book 2003 Deluxe Edition or  World Book Encyclopedia 2003... (Ultra Deluxe Ed.)


***UPDATE: The latest edition is World Book Encyclopedia 2004 Edition, selected as one of the Best Children's Software of 2003

  • Information is relevant and to the point.
  • Exceptionally kid-friendly product: easy reading level, clean interface, appealing features that nurture curiosity.


  • Less content than other encyclopedias means that older kids and adults will need more (we recommend Encarta).

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Published: 2003 By: Topics  Ages 8-11 Windows




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Buy  World Book 2003 Deluxe Edition or the Ultra Edition: World Book Encyclopedia 2003... at

Latest edition: World Book Encyclopedia 2004 Edition

Reviewed March 2003   Comments? Email us.

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