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Apps for Kids

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By Jessica Hoptay Brown

Smart phones, tablets, and computers are dominating our lives these days. So, it’s only natural that we turn to these devices to see what they can do for kids. With apps and eBooks galore, it’s hard to know which are quality, which to avoid, and which to explore. Have no fear! We’re here to help.

Before sitting down with your kids and iPad, it’s important to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 2 years. The term “media” mostly refers to anything with a screen: smart phones, tablets, computers, televisions, and the like. Read the full policy here.

Many sources that are known for reviewing books have taken up examining apps and enhanced picture books. Two of the best are School Library Journal and Kirkus. You can read School Library Journal’s “Best of Apps and Enhanced Books” article from July. If you’re looking for something more comprehensive, try reading Kirkus’ “Best Kids’ Book Apps of 2011” (we’re not quite through 2012 yet, but look for that review to come this December!). Kirkus’ article even includes side bar navigation to help you sort through book apps for the youngest readers or apps that are based on print books.

Now that you’re ready to explore apps for kids, consider trying one of these two based on an original print book.

Go Away, Big Green Monster Cover

Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley. Developed by Night & Day Studios. What’s great about this app is that the original print book already lends itself to an interactive experience, giving kids complete control over sending away this monster, piece by piece. The app includes fun animation of all of the monster’s features, and Emberley himself narrates the story if you want to hear it aloud. There’s also an adorable song that goes with it, written and performed by Emberley’s granddaughter. This is a great preschool app.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt. Developed by Random House Digital, Inc. and Smashing Ideas Inc. This is a delightful and fun adaptation of the 1940 classic that is still loved today. The app invites preschool kids to pop bubbles, make stars twinkle, and even have the book read aloud to them. Everyone remembers the mirror from the print version of the book, and this app even includes the mirror function, making use of the front-facing camera on smartphones and tablets. You can watch the “trailer” below!

I’d suggest taking these apps full circle and introducing your child to the print version of the book first, and then engaging them with the app. They will make connections between what is in the book and what’s on the screen and the interaction will be all the more meaningful as a result. Sound off in the comments: what are your favorite apps for kids? What sources do you look to for reviews and suggestions for the best apps around?


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