5 Very Interactive Digital Storybooks For Kids


While researching for one of my last blogs on “Sweet and Gentle iOS Kids Book-Like Apps To Play Before Bedtime”, I squirreled away the apps that I thought were better for a peppier time of day.  So here they are:

* As usual, I advise parents to invest in protective cases or sleeves for mobile devices so as to avoid mishaps, and tears from both parents and children. *

Astrid and Sirifree for iPad

Recently updated for the new third generation iPad, the textured illustrations are darling to start with, then the interactivity is like icing on the cake.  Astrid is resourceful fashion designer with a kind heart and can-do attitude, so it’s a great book, particularly for girls who may enjoy the dress-up mini-game.  Among other activities, users can “sew” over animals’ woollen coats to see Astrid’s creations, play with the pink bird, tap on animals for their reactions, paint pictures, play with Arctic fox Siri, turn lights on and off, eat desserts and make Astrid twirl.

The only tricky bit is when you accidentally pull on the bow, which brings down a menu to pick pages.  Click on the bow at the bottom of the menu to make it disappear, or otherwise you’ll be jumping through the story involuntarily.

For reading, the text highlights as the words are being read, which makes me even happier.

My Little Pony: Ruckus Readerfree for iPad with various in-app purchases

Readers have free access to the My Little Pony “Things That Go Bump In the Night” story but after that, parents will be forking out upwards of $3.99 for each digital book.

Activities include finding hidden words that contribute to a puzzle on the last “page”, tilting a map to get Twilight Sparkle to the right place in a maze, finding like phonics and poking at the screen to find hidden pictures.

It’s not a perfect app, but I’m sure with future fixes, these won’t be a problem anymore, and the app could become really great.  Text in the story is highlighted as narrated, but elsewhere, the narration will play without that function.  The “hidden” words for the end puzzle are a little too hard to find (or they don’t all link even if you found them previously) so it’s frustrating especially without an easy link to help finding them.  You can opt to make your own picture, but the app hasn’t been optimized for the new iPad yet, so the “sticker pictures” are blurry and disappointing.

The Ruckus Media Group has several other Ruckus Reader apps available, so you may want to try out Transformers, Crayola, Cars and SeaWorld.

Chipper’s Rainy Day Adventurefree for iPad

This story follows a cute, well-dressed little mouse, and though you might not fall in love with him by the end, you’ll fall very much in like.  The perk of Chipper being a tiny guy is that he can hide among small things (like stuffed animals and toys), but he can also dance, go out in the rain and keep clean.  Users have three different options for how Chipper spends chunks of his rainy day, so that keeps the experience fresh and leaves potential for a classic and inspiring rainy day tradition.

Millie Was Here, Book 1:  Meet Milliefree for iOS

This is an older app, but if you like pop-up books, I would say that this is an excellent find that really uses the capability of a mobile device.  It also highlights the words as they’re read.  A hybrid between scrapbook and storybook, the story follows Millie, dog extraordinaire, or actually … not really.

Users can collect hidden stickers from every page, so little fingers are in fact encouraged to screen jab.  The story isn’t stellar, but the interactivity is fantastic, and on the end screen, there’s a message to say that a portion of the proceeds benefits Petfinder.com Foundation, so if anything, it’s a great and funny way to raise money for a cause that isn’t as sexy or pertinent to non-animal lovers.

The music is a little creepy, and there’s a semi-useless bedtime mode with dimmed lighting and softer volume, but if the app is updated, those things could go away somewhat to very easily.  Fans can continue on with Millie and the Lost Key – Millie Was Here, Book 2, which sells for $3.99.

The Cat in the Hat – Dr. Seuss – LITE free to try for iOS, full version sells for $3.99, also available for Android, NOOK Color, Amazon.com devices, and HP webOS

The great part about this particular app is that the learning isn’t as in-your-face as some edutainment, so for little screen jabbing fingers, there’s great potential.  As you can see, I’m a bit of a stickler for words being highlighted as they’re read in any interactive storybook, but here, users can also actually press individual words to have them read aloud, or on items within the scenes to bring up the words and pronunciation.  I’ve seen similar functionality in CD-ROMs of days past, but for kids, the tablet is easier to grasp for a hands-on experience and there’s no mistaking which word is “sit” when you’re pressing it directly.  It’s probably not as fun an app as when you can make things spin and what not, but since Dr. Seuss classics seem to find their way into every household, the digital versions might be a great investment for early or pre-readers.

Halfway between regular books and video, I really like that digital interactive storybooks can inspire a new enthusiasm for reading.  For younger kids, it’s a chance to interact with the pictures while the story is being read, and for older kids, they can get used to listening and seeing words as they’re read aloud (or just see the text and skip the narration).  Of course, it doesn’t beat the time best spent reading with parents or family members, but for long car rides or when adults are busy, this type of app is top of my list for edutainment.

Image Source: Wired