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Children's Software Review:    World Book Encyclopedia 2004 Edition



Computer Software Review: World Book Encyclopedia 2004 Edition (3 CD-ROM Deluxe Edition)

For Windows 95B/98/Me/NT 4.0/XP 

By Topics Entertainment

Released: 2004

Reviewed: September 2004

Our Recommended Age: 8-11

Our Rating: A



World Book Encyclopedia Software


Buy: World Book Encyclopedia 2004 Edition

or latest edition: WorldBook Encyclopedia 2005 (2 CD Set)



World Book Encyclopedia Software

Top Pick. Sometimes less is more. World Book Encyclopedia 2004 Edition 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 three CD-ROMs in this edition. New to this 2004 edition are over 3000 additional articles, 43 new maps, 105 new illustrations, 530 new photographs, and 45 new tables. The basic features and interface remain the same. This time around, users can fully install the first CD-ROM in the set.

The main encyclopedia, contained on two CD-ROMs, opens with a splash screen. 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.

The "Monthly Spotlight" feature 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).  

Using the program's toolkit, students can highlight information needed from the articles. 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 2005). However, World Book 2004 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 2004 Edition, priced at only $19.99 US or less, is a great buy.  


  • 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).




Our Rating:



[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: World Book Encyclopedia 2004 Edition or the latest edition: WorldBook Encyclopedia 2005 (2 CD Set)]




Reviewed September 2004











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