Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fantastic Book Apps for Kids: announcing the 2011 Cybils finalists

Boing! Zoom! Zap! Is that your book making all those noises? Are you making things dance, bounce and sing? You must be reading a Book App, maybe on your smart phone or iPad. The Cybils Awards - given each year by bloggers for the year's best children's and young adult titles - has launched a new category specifically for iPad Book Apps, and the results are in!

The Cybils panels for each category have just announced their lists of finalists, a short list that represents the best of the books their judges have read. The Cybils Book App panel, made up of a group of seven librarians, teachers and parents with a broad range of experience, has chosen seven book apps. As the category organizer, I helped steer this committee, but they did the hard work of reading over 50 book apps and deciding on those that really represent the best of the lot.

The guiding focus for the Cybils Award is to choose books that "combine the highest literary merit and 'kid appeal.'" As they explain it, "If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussel sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious." If you're looking to dive into the world of book apps, the following make a great place to start.

Head over the Cybils 2011 Book App Finalists page for full descriptions of these great book apps.

Be Confident in Who You Are: A Middle School Confidential Graphic Novel
by Annie Fox
Electric Eggplant
ages 10 - 14
Nominated by: Amy Jussel
"This is an app created especially for tweens and young teens. ... It features six characters surviving Milldale Middle School who cope with issues of body image, conflicting emotions, how to be honest with friends, etc." - review by Sylvia Vardell

Bobo Explores Light
by GameCollage
Game Collage, LLC
ages 6 - 10
Nominated by: Paula Willey
"This iPad book app from Game Collage successfully mixes science, reading and fun.  Bobo the robot guides readers through information on light, inviting interaction in both serious and silly ways.   ... Never losing sight of its young audience, science is what lights up this app." - review by Tasha Saecker

Harold and the Purple Crayon
by Crockett Johnson and Trilogy Studios
Trilogy Studios Inc.
ages 3 - 7
Nominated by: John Schumacher
 "Harold's journey introduces this wondrous tale to a new generation of kids and gives their favorite adults a satisfying trip down memory lane. Though an enjoyable adventure to snuggle up and discover together, a special read-to-me feature with pitch-perfect narration makes the app especially kid friendly." - review by Sara Bryce

Hildegard Sings
by Thomas Wharton
One Hundred Robots
ages 4 - 8
Nominated by: Betsy Bird
"Hildegard is a singing rhino whose voice gives out right as she's about to make her operatic debut. ... Readers will squeal with laughter and delight as this interactive app draws them into hilarious plot twists." review by Carisa Kluver

Pat the Bunny
by Dorothy Kunhardt
Random House Digital
ages 1 - 4
Nominated by: Scott Gordon
"Preschool children will enjoy playing along with Judy, Paul, and Bunny as they participate in various activities in this app based on the classic book. ... Pat the Bunny is a fun interactive experience for our youngest readers." review by Jeff Barger

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
by Moonbot Studios
Moonbot Studios LA
ages 5 - 10
Nominated by: Hallie Tibbetts
"This app combines computer animation, interactive features and elements of a traditional picture book for a truly unique experience.  ...  Children and adult book lovers alike will identify with Morris and his love of story, getting lost in those stories and sharing them with others." review by Nicole Kessler

The Monster at the End of This Book
by Callaway Digital Arts, Inc
ages 4 - 9
Nominated by: Sheila Ruth
"Remember life before Elmo? When Grover was the cutest character back in the day? Well, Grover gets to star in this funny, well-made story app based on the original Golden Book from 1971. ... These effects and Grover's very dramatic narration make this hilarious story so much better than the original book -- which I have never said before about any book, and might not ever say again!" review by Melissa Taylor

I really want to honor and thank all of the members of the Round 1 Cybils Book App panel for their hard work and thoughtful consideration of all of the apps that were nominated. I also want to thank all of the developers and publishers for helping us consider each app. Finally, I want to thank the tireless Cybils organizers, especially Sheila Ruth and Anne Levy, for their hard work and constant coordination. This is a new category, a new way of distributing books, and it took the work of many to organize this new category.

Next steps? The Cybils Round 2 panels all start convening to consider the finalists. They will read and deliberate over the next six weeks. The Cybils Awards will be announced February 14th.

©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.


  1. I bought two of these apps after I saw them shortlisted. My kids, at home, love The Monster at the End of This Book app.

  2. Wonderful post! Thank you so much for all of your information! I have been trying to find the time to do my own research on iPad apps for my two and four year old but haven't gotten around to it yet! I am new here to your blog and I feel as if I have found gold!Thanks so much! (P.S. If you have the can check out my own site, on the ups and downs of becoming a writer for children: Thanks!

  3. It's a really useful article. I think I'll buy two of these for my little angel (5 years old). I love to read him different books with different stories. I only need to have a little free time, because in this time of the year I have a lot of work. Thank you a lot for sharing this.