Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Exploring Book Apps for Children at Emerson School

Today I'm excited to share our school's journey exploring book apps for children. I'll be presenting our favorites to the Bay Area Independent School Librarians (BAISL) at their quarterly meeting. You can find the handout here. Today and tomorrow, I'll share here at Great Kid Books some of my students' favorite book apps.

I’m fascinated by the question: how much does the medium shape our expectations? or are children really just interested in whether the story pulls them into the experience? When we read a book, we come to expect certain things. We turn the pages, we wait at each page and think a moment. Or we know we can flip the pages back and forth.

When we open a web page, we expect to be able to drag the scroll bar up and down, click our mouse on hyperlinks, and use the back button to take us back to where we started.

So what are children expecting as they turn on an iPad? How do these expectations - usually developed, quite honestly, with games like Angry Birds - shape their reaction to Book Apps? You expect to poke something and have it respond to your actions. You expect it to change and move.

Picture book apps (for ages 5-10)

The Monster at the End of This Book
Callaway Digital Arts, 2011

Lovable, furry Grover gets kids giggling every time the read this book app. Callaway Digital Arts and Sesame Street have teamed together to add just the perfect amount of animation and interaction, along with Grover's classic voice, to capture kids' attention from the get-go.

Listen to my review from Katie Davis's podcast: Brain Burps about Books:

Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss
Oceanhouse Media, 2010

Oceanhouse Media lead the way with book apps, adapting many Seuss classics to the iPad. These apps are developed with great thought and care of what will help new readers, often mimicking the way a parent or teacher would read with a child. You read a few lines and look at a portion of the original text. The text never overwhelms the image. If you tap on an image, the narrator names that image and the word pops up in bold letters. Kids come back to these stories because of they respect the heart and feel of Seuss's originals.

Ink Robin, Inc., 2012

I love the way the story shines through in this original app. Leonard is a little kid who moves to a new home, a new town where he feels all alone. Leonard's imagination saves the day, as he soars into outer space, explores the jungle, squishes bugs through the house. The interactive features are just enough to surprise kids, but never overwhelm the story. The narration, sound effects and music add to the humor and tone. I agree with Kirkus Reviews: "Well told, cleverly illustrated and beautifully supported with interactive surprises that make sense and are great fun, this is a stellar example of iPad storytelling."

Other favorite picture book apps at our library:
Do you have any favorite picture book apps for children ages 5 - 10? We'd love to hear about your favorites. Our biggest frustration is finding out about high quality apps that are worth purchasing. The App Store is filled with book apps, but many do not hold students' attention.

Tomorrow, I'll share some of our favorite nonfiction book apps.

Search other ebook app reviews at Great Kid Books.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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