published Friday, August 5th, 2011

Tablet storybook apps offer bedtime tales to go

Tablet storybook apps offer bedtime tales to go.
Tablet storybook apps offer bedtime tales to go.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

TOP 10 APPS

The following were named the Top 10 storybook apps of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews, a bi-monthly book-review magazine.

"PopOut! The Tale of Peter Rabbit."

"What Does My Teddy Bear Do All Day."

"Alice for the iPad."

"Cozmo's Day Off."

"The Three Little Pigs and the Secrets of a Pop-Up Book."

"The Little Mermaid."

"Bartleby's Book of Buttons."

"The Wrong Side of the Bed."

"Green Eggs and Ham."

"Jack and the Beanstalk Children's Interactive Storybook."


FREEBIES

In addition to self-contained storybook apps, there are a number of free apps that offer free and pay-by-the-book collections.

International Children's Digital Library (ICDL).

MeeGenius.

Story Mouse.

Read Me Stories.

Moving Picture Books.


TOP PAID APPS

There are many paid storybook apps available. Here are the most popular titles people are willing to pay for.

"Princess Dress-Up: My Sticker Book" ($4)

"Dr. Seuss's ABC" ($4)

"Cars 2 World Gran Prix Read and Race" ($7)

"The Cat in the Hat" ($4)

"Green Eggs and Ham" ($4)

Source: Apple App Store

Once upon a time, bedtime stories were written down in books made of paper.

The characters didn't move, there was no music or sound effects and the only narrator was a parent.

Books are facing new competition, storybook apps developed for tablet devices.

Apple's App Store and the Android Marketplace are full of interactive versions of classic stories by beloved children's book authors such as Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll, as well as original works designed exclusively for tablets.

Books that have made the transition to these devices often offer music, profession narration, animated backgrounds and word-by-word reading assistance.

While educators and parents agree digital storybooks won't completely replace books at the bedside anytime soon, their portability and cost make them an appealing alternative.

"When you just need to entertain them for a little while, it's better than TV because it's educational," said Julie Kurtz-Kunesh. "Instead of just sitting and drooling in front of the TV, they get to interact and do something, and you feel like maybe they're learning."

Kurtz-Kunesh's daughter, Ceallaigh, 3, loves to read Beatrix Potter's classic tale "Timmy Tiptoes" on her iPad, although her parents continue to emphasize reading physical books at bedtime.

That parent-child interaction will continue to be important, even as digital alternatives become popular, said National Louis University reading and language professor Junko Yokota.

"The iPad itself is not going to change the potential for that experience; it's how parents view their role in it," Yokota said. "The parent being the read-aloud for the child is a very critical part of that experience.

"I don't know that research has revealed yet what this [storybook apps] is doing to that bedtime reading, but I think that bedtime readaloud is much more about the conversation, about the experience, than just the book. I hope we don't lose that."

On June 26, Yokota presented a speech on the growing influence of storybook apps at the American Library Association's annual convention.

Storybook apps are becoming increasingly sophisticated compared to their predecessors, which were primarily scanned versions of paper books, but parents and educators must determine whether greater interactivity helps or hinders the reading experience, Yokota said.

"What we need to consider in today's world is, 'How does this app appeal to the child reader audience,' from the point of view of what sustains their attention and what focuses their attention to the main story at hand," she said.

Besides their sparkling presentation, storybook apps offer a lower cost ($1-$10) compared to traditional books and the ability to download titles anywhere.

Lee Hope is the coordinator of services for children and young adults at the Bicentennial Library.

While she continues to advocate for keeping physical books at the bedside, she said she appreciates how digital books can spark the imagination by making fairy tales and spooky stories even more vivid.

"Anything that helps bring a book to life for a child is a positive," she said. "That's certainly what we do in our story times and our school-age programs ... to bring books to life for kids so they see that it's more than just words and a picture on a page.

"Anything we can do for children to lead them to books and excite them about reading is positive."

BOOKS TO CHECK OUT

“Alice for the iPad”

Buy it on: Apple App Store.

Price: $9

Lite version available: Yes.

What it is: A highly stylized, interactive retelling of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale of Alice and her trip through Wonderland.

Audio narration: No.

Record your own narration: No.

Features: 20 animated scenes with interactive elements. Set pieces and characters react to user touch and iPad movement, 52-page abridged version included.


“Aesop’s Wheel of Fables”

Buy it on: Apple App Store.

Price: $3.

Lite version available: No.

What it is: A collection of 20 children’s fables by the Greek storyteller Aesop such as “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and “The Lion and the Mouse.”

Audio narration: Yes.

Record your own narration: Yes.

Features: Stories arranged on a touch-spinnable wheel, reading certain stories unlocks interactive spot-the-difference puzzles.


“Bartleby’s Book of Buttons: Volume 1: The Far Away Island”

  • photo
    Bartleby’s Book of Buttons: Volume 1: The Far Away Island

Buy it on: Apple App Store.

Price: Free.

Lite version available: No.

What it is: An adventurer travels to an island in search of a mystical button to add to his collection. The first tale in an ongoing series.

Audio narration: No.

Record your own narration: No.

Features: Highly interactive scenes full of switches and buttons to press using clues to solve puzzles that advance the story.


“The Cat in the Hat”

Buy it on: Apple App Store and Android Marketplace.

Price: $4.

Lite version available: Yes.

What it is: The beloved Dr. Seuss story of two bored children trapped at home on a rainy day and their encounter with a mischievous cat.

Audio narration: Yes, including auto-play and read-myself.

Record your own narration: No.

Features: Professional narration and musical score, readers can touch words or objects on screen and the narrator will identify them.


“PopOut! The Tale of Peter Rabbit”

Buy it on: Apple App Store and Android Marketplace.

Price: $5 (App Store), $2.61 (Marketplace).

Lite version available: Yes (on App Store).

What it is: Beatrix Potter’s classic tale of a rebellious rabbit who sneaks into a farmer’s vegetable garden where he gets himself in trouble.

Audio narration: Yes, including auto-play and read-myself.

Record your own narration: No.

Features: Interactive elements including characters that shake, giggle and bounce at a touch, professional narration and soundtrack.


“Bella Goes Bump in the Night”

Buy it on: Apple App Store and Android Marketplace.

Price: $1.

Lite version available: No.

What is it: A young girl must face and eventually befriend the scary monsters she sees in her dreams. The first book in the upcoming “Bella the Great” series.

Audio narration: Yes.

Record your own narration: No.

Features: Language options in English and German, five colorable scenes with a save option for the finished product.


“Toy Story Read Along”

Buy it on: Apple App Store.

Price: Free (volumes 2 and 3 are $4 and $6).

Lite version available: No.

What it is: An interactive recounting of the “Toy Story” film, featuring Woody, Buzz and their friends.

Audio narration: Yes, including auto-play and read-myself modes.

Record your own narration: Yes.

Features: Dialog by film actors, interactive games, finger-painting scenes, sing-alongs.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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