Welcome to the first installment of AppAdvice Jr., a column dedicated to parents. Each week I’ll present the best iOS apps to aid the challenge of raising children. I should know, I have three myself (a 2-year-old, and twin 15-month-olds).
This generation of kids are growing up with powerful technology that is so readily available. My 2-year-old touches my desktop’s screen, expecting it to react (she pretends the mouse is a cell phone). She could unlock my iPad’s lock screen and find the app she wanted by the time she turned one. And she’s not alone.
With so many apps available, trying to find the right one for your kids can be overwhelming. I’m making it my job to find the best apps to help your children become better 21st century learners and citizens (and gamers).
Join me, won’t you?
I thought I would start with something we all do everyday, but take for granted: reading.
Reading is about comprehension, but it’s also about making personal connections to the text. For example, you’re more likely to remember a story if you can identify with it in some way. If you have no idea what the story is about or can’t picture it in your head, you’re lost.
What’s so great about book apps is that they inherently make a connection to the text through their interactivity. However, the pitfall with book apps is that many of them fall into the default of swiping to read pages, having the pages read to you, and maybe some sound music and sound effects. Interactive, yeah, but not too far from what you’d get with a normal book.
The Dr. Seuss series from Oceanhouse have turned the famous childhood classics into apps, yet they’re hardly different than the real thing (and I can do a much better Lorax voice than theirs).
For me, the trick is to create an experience that can’t be obtained from reading the physical book.
That being said, I thought I’d share some great book apps for kids.
Perhaps my all-time favorite (and my kids’ too) is The Monster at the End of This Book. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy this book as a child (Sesame Street and metafiction, what’s not to like?), but I believe it is also the quintessential example of how a story can be enhanced by interactivity.
Instead of reading about lovable, furry old Grover hiding behind a brick wall, you can actually tap the bricks to collapse it. When he ties the pages together to keep you from turning them, you can undo the knots. Parents are taken into consideration, too, as the app provides some tips for reading the story with a child, as well as how to deal with children’s fears in general.
Another way to make a personal connection to a story is to actually become a part of the story.
There are plenty of apps that do this, though another favorite is it’s Me! Peter Pan. Not only does it contain interactive elements that enhance the story, but it also includes the main feature of being able to replace Peter Pan’s face with a picture of your child. Furthermore, you upload additional pictures to convey different emotions, which are used frequently throughout the story.
Reading should always be encouraged with your children to the point that they want to become independent readers. Book apps certainly create an attractive package, especially when they add content that takes the story a step further than where a regular book can go.
Have any different apps worked for your kids?