Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kids' book apps

If you're interested in finding good storybook apps for young readers, I recommend starting with this article Planet App: Kids' book apps are everywhere. But are they any good? by Elizabeth Bird from School Library Journal. It starts with some suggestions as to things to look for in a storybook app, and then moves on to examine some books using those criteria.

One of the most important questions she asks is, "What does the app provide that a simple lapsit with a print book and an adult does not?" This a pertinent question to ask about most apps. What is the value in having a student use the app as opposed to working some other way? If there is no real advantage, then why use the app? If the app could be replaced by an audio recording  and a copy of the book, then what's the point?

Bird sees some valuable qualities in storybook apps, but of course not all apps are equally good! Her article will help you think critically about the free samples you can download from companies like Rye Studio, Loud Crow, and many others. Note that the free storybooks are often limited in some way. They are usually free only to give you a taste of what the full version is like, so you can 'try before you buy' and sometimes, but not always,  include the word 'Lite' in the title to alert you to that fact.  Read the description carefully to find out what is missing. If it's an interactive feature, then you may find the app still usable. Sometimes, however, it's the last page or two of the story!

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