I know I’m mixing up terms a bit here between gamebook and digital book, but in general, I’m referring to apps that have a story from start to finish with some interactivity – hence, “book-like” apps.
LEGO DUPLO ZOO – free for iOS
There’s a lovely and gentle narrative to this sweet little story about finding Lion to give him his present. Giraffe and Bunny go on a quest through the zoo (suspend your disbelief that they aren’t captive themselves), and interact with various characters to get there. The orchestration is just soft enough to keep things bouncing but not enough to inspire hyperactivity before bedtime. For something peppier, try LEGO DUPLO JAMS (which I’ve written about before) for its awesome Barnyard Serenade.
Stella and Sam: Backyard at Twilight – free for iPad
Stella and Sam is generally known for a pretty docile preschool crowd, so their apps in general have a nice slow pace. The app is classified in the app store as a game, but since there’s a story to it, I’m going with “interactive book.” Activities within the story involve “finding bugs with a flashlight”, connecting the dots in stars and softly flicking fireflies into shape. Well, make that a shape. This app can also be played in French.
Goodnight Safari – free for iOS
Recently updated for the new third generation iPad, the textured illustration in this gentle story is so stunning that I can almost guarantee it being a classic repeat in your household (if it isn’t already). I usually marvel at hidden bits of interactivity in iOS story apps, but there’s just enough gentle action to keep things interesting. The text highlights as it’s read (essential, in my opinion, for kids book apps), and the soothing voice narration is calming even to kids-at-heart.
Hannah – free for iPad
This is an older app but the sound effects, basic animation and narration are still really lovable. One might expect more interactivity with a recently released app, but since this blog post was all about finding sweet and gentle books for bedtime, it’s a lovely little story that has just the right pace for the end of the day. It’s about Hannah and her hats. That’s all you need to know.
Who Stole the Moon – free to try for iPad, $4.99 to purchase full version
This app was originally released on March 4 2012, and if you’re comparing the two apps, you’ll see what I’m talking about in terms of interactivity levels. In Who Stole the Moon, the initial bedroom picture lets you press the wall pictures so that they fall down, you can turn the lights on and off, get Daniel to heave a sigh in his sleep, knock a sock off the bed, and tweak the telescope. I’m recommending this as a good bedtime book since the narration is calming and the background soundtrack is soft, melodic and lullaby-like. For little jabby-screen fingers, there seems like lots to do so the experience could be new each time.
In the free version of the app, users can play one of the activities (a colouring book mini-app) and two of the original songs, of which there are eight plus karaoke in the full version.
With options to read in English and French, this app is great for kids to learn in both languages since the text is relatively easy to understand and so well-read by bilingual actor Macha Grenon. The illustrations are marvellous, the animations just right and the story (which follows the jealous little princess) has a happy ending. Users can purchase other stories by Éditions Imagine through the app.