Best eBooks for Kids
When books become digital, you have to wonder where to draw the line between pure animation and the traditional art of reading a book. How do you tell an eBook is not a video game or a cartoon? Fortunately some app developers are true artists who’ve created eBooks true to the spirit of a book whose pages you turn but with enhanced interactive (or not) features that allow the reader to participate in the story. If this is the future of books, then kids are in for a treat. And rest assured that parents can still be part of the family reading ritual – these are eBooks, not games. They’re meant to be read together.
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By Shape Minds and Moving Images GmbH
This interactive bedtime story will delight toddlers and preschoolers who will be able to say nighty night to various farm and house animals who sleep in a house by switching off the lights. A fun way to learn animal sounds, this eBook has very few words just like a board book. When your little one knows all the animal sounds, you can purchase additional animals for a more complete nighttime menagerie.
By Demibooks Inc.
Take a ride amongst the stars with Jimmy, a little boy whose starry hooded jammies suddenly transport him to outer space. Preschoolers and older children will have a blast trying to figure out whether they should shake the page to make the pajama’s stars light up or tap on a gooey green moon or help Jimmy to avoid a flying star. Told in verse, each line appearing at a time like a poem, this story is the perfect bedtime companion for aspiring astronauts or kids who daydream of rocket ships.
Pop Out! The Tale of Peter Rabbit
No risk to tear a page in this digital pop-up book! Featuring Beatrix Potter’s original illustrations, the 50-page book tells the tale of Peter Rabbit who went to the garden of Mr. McGregor despite his mother’s warnings. Featuring pull-out tabs, spin wheels, and fruits and leaves to pop so they fall at the bottom of the page, this book is a fun way for preschoolers to learn early words because the words on the page are highlighted at the same time as they are read. Plus, the dreamy piano music of Debussy is a lovely sound background to the classic.
Educational in every sense, this digital Aesop fable app includes parental tips and a teacher’s guide in addition to words being highlighted when read, interactive features, a fun musical soundtrack and an upgrade for additional languages. Fans of Living Books will recognize this story as one of the beloved original interactive animated multimedia children’s books. Though not as visually striking as some other eBooks, it will still inspire children to explore every nook and cranny of the page they read – or play with.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mister Lessmore
Blurring the lines between short movie and book, this award-winning app is an ode to the power of great books and how their stories can bring their readers to life. Inspired by Hurricane Katrina, the story focuses on book-loving Mr. Morris Lessmore, whose personal library is blown away in a terrible wind but who finds meaning caring for the books he finds in a marvelous library. Including an amazing variety of interactive features, from drawing with your finger to making books talk, this eBook will be a keeper for many years. Once you’ve read this story, share your favorite childhood books with your children.
What if you could see Alice stretch and stretch after she’s drunk the fateful little bottle in Wonderland? Or scatter rose petals on the page of the Queen’s guards painting roses? This gorgeous iPad app is like an illustrated Victorian book whose characters come alive on the screen. Letting you choose between a 52-page bedtime edition and the 249-page original, this digital Alice in Wonderland is the perfect road trip or restaurant book for older kids who want to read the words and play with their book. Hopefully a future update will include a “read to me” option making it accessible to non-readers but until then, it remains one the best iPad books out there.
This review first appeared in the Golden Gate Mothers Group Magazine, November 2012, as the Books for Kids column. I’ve been writing this column since 2005.