The iPad is a boon for book lovers of all ages. Not only does it support all the major e-reader platforms, but it adds a new dimension to read alouds and bedtime stories. While the iPad draws kids in with its interactivity and audio capabilities, readers must never forget that the device is only a conduit for content. Kids don’t want bland, boring stories any more than adults do, and fortunately for all of us, digital storytelling is anything but stagnant.
There are so many good choices, from self-contained apps such as Hildegard Sings (PadGadget = 5 stars) and Nighty Night HD (PadGadget = 5 stars), to iBooks, to borrowing content from the public library. Developers and publishers including Scholastic, uTales, and Made in Me all have apps that create self-contained, customized libraries that bring the bookshelf into the digital age. These apps target the young, voracious reader by making a large number of books available in one place, often for less than the cost of a typical child’s print book.
Scholastic is familiar to anyone with a school-aged child in the U.S. The publishing house brings its well-known book club to iOS with Storia for iPad, a child’s reading app that offers a wealth of reasonably priced titles that young readers already know and love, from the Hunger Games and Harry Potter to Clifford the Big Red Dog and the Black Lagoon series. Parents of developing readers will appreciate that users sort book choices by reading level, so it is easier to know that you’re buying a book that matches your child’s reading ability. Storia is also available on the web.
Readers who want to discover new titles will enjoy uTales. Though this universal app is free to download, it requires the user to purchase a monthly subscription for $9.99 that offers full access to all the uTales, or the purchase of books à la carte. The developer of uTales accepts submissions for children’s book, so brand new titles are always added. Best of all, after registering at uTales.com the first 15 days of reading are free. The story authors, or uTalers, also donate a portion of their earnings to Pencils of Promise, a charitable organization that enhances education by building schools and developing sustainable curricula in Laos, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.
Ladybird Classic Me Books was created by Made in Me, and brought to the App Store through a partnership with Penguin. Ladybird’s selection encourages readers to explore classic tales whose vintage illustrations will charm as they entertain. Ladybird bridges the gap between old and new by using multiple narrators per story and allowing readers to create their own hotspots. Kids will love being able to record their own voices, an feature that ensures Ladybird titles will be read and re-read. Download Ladybird Classic Me books from the App Store for $0.99. The app is compatible with iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, and the download includes The Zoo. Most additional titles are only $0.99.
Readers who still prefer stand alone apps should check out The Land of Me, by the same developer. The app comprises a choose-your-own-adventure style tale suitable for pre-K through early elementary school. The Land of Me is free to download from the App Store, and is compatible with the iPad 2.