5 Great Digital Book Apps for Kids that Truly Deliver
December 20, 2012 | 4:16 pm
By Brian Burton
With the introduction of children’s books to various app stores, countless learning opportunities are presenting themselves for you and your children. With the moderation process on Apple’s app store being spotty at best, you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. I have read and scoured over more children’s books than you can imagine, and with the introduction of this new digital format, I was anxious to see how this platform could further heighten the storytelling experience.
After a few downloads and finger slides across my iPad’s screen, I have to tell you, I was very impressed. This digital format is capable of really impressing both the parent and the child. Suddenly, the characters that I had only previously encountered in their classic, static form were moving around on the page, bounding from here to there—and often times, with voices.
Both my child and I had a blast as we swiped and touched and sometimes even shook our way through selections that have been around for forever—as well as some that have been exclusively released through the app store. Below are five of the titles that stood out for their storytelling, creativity and presentation.
Note: I tested all of these storybooks via iPad, and I am not aware of how—or if—they will function on other devices.
A Present for Milo (Ruckus Media Group)
Rukus Media really delivered in their digital release of A Present for Milo. On the storytelling front, we are whisked along with the Milo the cat as he gleefully chases a mouse throughout a colorfully illustrated house. The story is simple and quirky, and will not pose a challenge for young readers or even listeners.
What really got exciting with this app—for us, at least—were the amount of interactions my child and I were able to discover. The developer boasts that the story is sprinkled (perhaps doused) with 125 different animations that are randomized each time you take a journey through the book. Everything from the tinkling of piano keys to the topsy-turvy rocking of a boat is presented here, just waiting to be discovered by your child’s anxious hands. ($5.99 on iTunes)
Jabberwocky 3D (VivaBook)
I had a little bit of choosing to do when I decided to download this title. The app store had many different varieties of this classic Carroll poem. I ended up going with VivaBook’s rendition, for its bright colors and added bonus features (more on that in a moment). The story itself is a great one; Carroll plays on our preconceptions of language and grammar; and makes up a whole host of words that can often lead to some serious laughing fits for your child.
The amounts of extras for this title are what really make it stand out. When listening to the audio, you have the option of hearing it narrated by either a female or a male. I thought this was a nice touch for younger listeners who might have a better trained ear for one gender over the other. But what really made this title great was the ability to be able to record your own narration, and have the app kick it back to you as you make your way through the story once again. My child couldn’t contain himself with how awesome he thought this feature was. (Consequently, we were subjected to his retelling more times than I wish to divulge here.) ($5.99 on iTunes)
The Velveteen Rabbit (Ruckus Media Group)
After my previous successes, I couldn’t wait to see what sort of goodies awaited me when I checked out this classic tale by Margery Williams. What really sold me here was the on-point narration by Meryl Streep. Streep perfectly captures the essence of this tale; her voice is neither hurried nor overly dramatic. George Winston, an accomplished pianist, accompanies the tale with a beautiful Christmas piano score that moves just as wonderfully with the narration. No fancy bells or whistles with this one, just a classic story of the bunny who comes to life and the boy who adores it. ($5.99 on iTunes)
The Cat in the Hat (Oceanhouse Media)
The last, and arguably finest, entry to this list is Dr. Seuss’s best work, The Cat in the Hat. My child and I both agreed that this was our favorite of the whole lot. From the bright and quirky narration to the words that light up as they are read, this app nails it on every page. A really great feature of this digital release is the ability to tap or touch literally everything on the screen, after which the associated word or phrase is presented both visually and audibly. This app houses the original artwork, and is a great example of the successful marriage of the digital and classic formats of a storybook. ($3.99 on iTunes)