I hear an incessant knocking at the library door these days:
Knock Knock KNOCK KNOCK!
Who’s There? I say meekly.
It’s a gang of KidApps and we want in!
Where do KidLibs fit into all these iPad and Smart Phone apps for kids? If you’ve dipped a toe into this world like I’ve been doing the past few weeks, it’s pretty overwhelming and it’s only just getting started. Everywhere I look, someone is buzzing about this stuff. Will and Kate have a children’s book app? Since the devices themselves, for the moment, are keeping many libraries out of the KidApp world- at least in terms of their collections, I’m thinking that we might begin by doing what we do best: offering workshops for the public and lists of and links to resources that suggest titles and help evaluate.
Unlike adult and teen book apps, these apps are enhanced to make the experience ultra engaging. Take a look at what Ocean House Media has done to The Cat in the Hat. Pretty cool, eh? I love the ’3 ways to read this book’ options: read to me; read it myself; and auto play. I’m pretty fond of how each word is highlighted as it’s read in the ‘read to me’ option.
These apps take a child’s natural ‘touch’ instinct and allows that to navigate her through a literacy experience. Ruckus Media is hard at work taking well-known children’s authors and books and dropping them into the KidApps world. Rick Richter of Rukus Media says “what a 2-to-4-year old wants in an app, is to poke and be satisfied.” Head over there to see a 45-second sample of one of their KidApps, A Present for Milo and let me know what you think!
The Peter Rabbit App, which turns the story of Peter Rabbit into a digital pop-up book is getting great reviews. As is Alice for the iPad and The Wrong Side of the Bed 3D. But there is, of course, debate about not if these apps are books, but whether they’re even good for little ones. Not all KidApps are created equal and some don’t hit the nail on the head and turn out to be more ‘game’ than ‘book.’ This is where librarians come in (bum-bum-BAH!) Parents arereally going to need help evaluating all that’s available to them. Fortunately, help is out there- for us and them! Review sources are popping up everywhere as well as guides on how to evaluate these new media yourselves. The great Elizabeth Bird (who is becoming the KidsApps Guru!) wrote an amazing and super-helpful article this past January on just that: Planet App: Kids Book Apps are Everywhere. But Are They Any Good? And School Library Journal to the rescue! In February they began an Apps Advisory Group! Kirkus (bless you!) is working on a discovery engine devoted to children’s book apps (for librarians, but also for parents!) And Fun Educational Apps is a review site that helps parents navigate the myriad KiApps out there. Great links to share with families on the library website.
One of the most exciting KidApps I’ve come across in my wanderings around that intersection where children and technology meet is a new (and apparently the first) iPad magazine for kids called Timbuktu.
Now not all KidApps are books. There are encouraging educational games out there as well. 123 Ants Go Marching and ABC Song are 2 new KidApp games from HarperCollins Children’s Books. And Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island (an app where book and game meet) is getting a lot of attention. Like The 39 Clues, it’s connected with a dedicated website where kids can delve deeper into the experience.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That this changes everything?
If you’re interested in reading even more about these kinds of digital-cool-stuffs, here are a few places to go:
- Children and Technology Review
- 5 Amazing iPad e-books for Kids
- The iPad Meets the Children’s Book
- iPad Storybook Apps and the Kids Who Love Them
- MyBookshelf: an iPad Book App for Kids
- iStorytimeTime: A Library of Narrated Children’s Books for the iphone