Christmas E-Books For Children
Books used to be something that children read. Now, with iPhones and iPads, kids don’t simply read their books, they engage with them. With animation, narration, music, and activities, E-books have become a wondrous medium for many young readers. They are also a powerful tool for sharing the wonder of Christmas. This AppList spotlights some great holiday book apps with which to fill your digital shelves.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Besides retelling a Christmas classic, the Charlie Brown Christmas app demonstrates the potential achieved when technology, literature, and holiday cheer meet on common ground. Even those who have never heard the name of Charlie Brown will find themselves swept up in his quest to find the true meaning of Christmas. Animation, narration, music, and activities: this book has all it all. It is Christmas magic in e-book form.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas! - Dr. Seuss
How The Grinch Stole Christmas is another classic Christmas tale. The app is not as polished as Charlie Brown’s, but with such excellent source material, it doesn’t need to be. A child would need a heart smaller than the Grinch’s to not have his or her heart warmed by the Grinch’s transformation. Dr. Seuss’ story is rightfully considered a hallmark of children’s Christmas literature. This app is a fitting digital translation of the original book.
The Berenstain Bears' Christmas Tree
The Berenstain bears are another example of children’s book characters who have pleased multiple generations of children. The story runs a little long, but is good bang for the buck with its excellent narration, beautiful artwork, and educational picture/word association system. The Berenstain Bears also have another Christmas app entitled “The Berenstain Bears Trim the Tree.” In some ways, it has better user interactions, such as “lift-the-flap” surprises. However, in this writer’s opinion, “The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree” offers a better story. Both are worthy Christmas e-books.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer combines literature and television by using music, artwork, and audio from the 1964 TV special. The result is mixed. This is one of Oceanhouse Media’s books (omBooks). A distinguishing feature of many omBooks is its function of being able to touch an object and learn its associated word. However, in this app, some objects give a sound clip from the TV special, while others give the word. This attempt to straddle the fence between television and book can sometimes lead to a strange disjointed feel. However, despite such quirks, this e-book, like most omBooks is a faithful representation of the original material. The original material is well-known and beloved, so the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer app deserves to be on this list.
A Royal Christmas
A Royal Christmas will be popular with kids (at least with the girls), simply because it’s Disney and because it features Disney Princesses. Unlike the movies they’re based on, the stories of Cinderella, Ariel, and Tiana’s Christmas adventures are more holiday fluff than compelling tales. But character recognition goes a long way with children, and this app redeems itself with a number of in-app activities, including tree decoration, coloring pages, and puzzles.
Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure
Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure also features a famous children’s character. It doesn’t simply rest on the fame of its protagonist, however. The app succeeds as much for its in-app interactions as it does for its inclusion of Dora, Boots, and Swiper the Fox. In many ways, this app feels less like an e-book and more like an activity center that happens to be packaged like a book.
Kundersanterbleebin - A Christmas Story
It is not only well-known characters who are telling their Christmas stories through apps. Kundersanterbleebin is a recently released tale about those who believe in Santa Claus (Doobinbleebs) and those who don’t (Bleebernobs). It has an interesting story and distinct artwork which suits it perfectly. One weakness of the app is that it doesn’t really offer much in terms of in-app interactions, other than music and narration. It also elevates Santa Claus to an almost religious status, which some parents may question. Still, the story is engaging, and it aims to become a new Christmas classic. It just might succeed.
Flying Poodles - A Christmas Story
Compared to other e-books on this list, Flying Poodles does not have the same slick packaging, nor is it packed with in-app features. Instead, it boasts a more homegrown feel. A prime example of this is the author’s choice to feature some of her neighborhood kids as the voices for her poodles, instead of professional voice actors. Despite its dearth of bells and whistles, the book has a lot of charm. Poodles subbing in for sick reindeer? It’s a cute Christmas concept, which should have widespread kid appeal.
Christmas Eve - SO
This e-book is packed with features that many others lack. For example, besides English, you can also read and hear the story in French or Mandarin Chinese. There are a number of educational options, such as being able to click on a word (in any of the offered languages) and either defining it, or seeing a picture of what it represents. The app also offers different settings depending on the age of the reader, as well as some entertaining animations. The story itself will probably not become a Christmas classic. However, the app’s production value sets it apart and allows it to serve as a model for e-book interactions.
The Night Before Christmas presented by One Hundred Robots
There are many apps inspired by this famous poem, which helped inspire our modern conception of Santa Claus. It is difficult to choose just one, since the different apps appeal to different people. Some will prefer apps with classic artwork, such as that by Jessie Willcox Smith. Others will appreciate a more modern spin to the piece. The app that was chosen takes the latter approach. This app, by One Hundred Robots, was chosen because of its superior animation, its excellent narration, and the belief that its style best reflects the tastes of the current generation of kids who have been weaned on technology.