Thursday, 7 June 2012

Children's Picture Books on your iPhone or iPad. Are they any good?

The world of apps is undeniably appealing.  Anyone who has experienced the genius that is the iPad will know this (my four year old daughter had a go on a friend's iPad and was hooked - it is fantastic).  And publishers of children's literature have cottoned onto this with apps for picture books.  But are they any good?  Indeed, are they better than a traditional paper book (I know!  Paper?  Crazy!). 

Katie Bircher's article, on The Horn Book website caught my eye back in February this year.  And I shall tell you for why.  Other app reviews I've read have been very heavily weighted in favour of traditional books.  I can appreciate this.  It's difficult to grasp just how quickly technology is moving, and I can hear my mother's voice telling me I'll get 'square eyes' if I watch TV for too long.  We're all a bit worried that too much screen time is going to be damaging for our children, so the thought of actively promoting babies and toddlers to use an iPad kind of goes against the grain a bit, doesn't it?  But Bircher talks about how the interactivity of these apps not only adds an extra oomph to the experience, but enhances it in a way that paper books simply can't.  

Ladybird seem to have got this just right, from the little previews I've had.  The books are not simply reproduced with pointless 'touch here to hear a sheep say baa' buttons, but actively engage their young readers with music, games, quizzes, colouring and drawing.  

Paper books just can't compete.  And that's kind of my point.  They shouldn't compete.  They are two completely different things.  

Book Apps are an interactive experience that young children can play with, have fun with, listen to, and, most importantly of all, control.  Traditional paper books offer a different experience.  Probably a calmer, snuggle down at bedtime, share with mummy or daddy experience.  

This isn't the Wild West and this town IS big enough for the both of us. 

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