TWA BEST BOOK APPS 2015
As books and apps blend to change the printed landscape into a digital world the pages may not turn as we are accustomed to, but this transition has not in any way hindered the reading experience. If anything it has broadened the concept way beyond the printed page and made the “joy of reading” a truly in-depth and unconventional activity. This is the short list of best books for this year, please add your fav to the comments, we would love to share!
Whoa! We aren’t in Kansas anymore, I say to Toby my little white dog. In David Wiesner’s SPOT, one may, like Dorothy, be transported into other lands. This immersive and wordless interactive storybook launches the reader into five incredibly detailed and beautiful worlds. The idea for the app was conceived years ago and was just a twinkle in the eye of its creator David Wiesner. Working with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s team extraordinaire once the technology could portray and transition between the worlds, the app was able to come to fruition and make full use of the iPads capabilities. Each exploration is a unique and individual experience, and that is what makes this app so exceptional. Exploration gives the different worlds a 3D effect, and they are set as far away as the stars but as close as the tip of your nose. It only takes a little curiosity and finding the seeds of a trail interconnecting the worlds to see how a world so big can become one so close and accessible. READ TWA full review Here
Leonardo’s Cat by StoryToys Entertainment Limited is a magical journey that promotes sequencing, prioritizing, and then testing a hypothesis of what may happen next in order to achieve a goal. These are important life skills and are some of the building blocks to facilitating independent thinkers and problem solvers. The execution of the game is about as perfect as it gets, and it is loads of fun for all ages – meaning you will have to surrender the iPad to the kid that you bought this game for in the first place. Game play centers on using the inventions and dreams of Leonardo da Vinci to collect all the pieces to his beloved Automaton that Michelangelo has stolen away. To collect the pieces, Leonardo sends his cat, Scungilli, about the city. Scungilli makes use of Leonardo’s inventions and other imaginings of the renaissance era to navigate and avoid obstacles or roadblocks. The game/book
comes to life through the awe-inspiring narration of Patrick Stewart, and the beautifully rendered illustrations gently urge kids to explore. To find out more about the making of this app, and to view a trailer, visit leonardoscat.com. The app is divided into 6 chapters, and there are 60 sequenced brainteasers in all. At the end of each chapter kids are awarded with seeing found parts of the Automaton restored. READ TWA full review Here
Oceanhouse Media has done the unthinkable…making an already great app better! The new interactive features of Green Eggs and Ham is sure to delight moms and teachers, but more importantly kids everywhere! This beloved book by Dr. Suess has a cleaner less cluttered interface on the home page. All settings are conveniently accessed through a little book icon on the top. Read to Me, Read to Myself, and highlighted text is present and accounted for as well as the ability to tap and hear individual words. This is so important to help a beginning reader get through a page independently by exploring words at their own pace. It is that self-driven motor act that helps seal in the information for future use, because of the synchronization of sight, sound, and movement (directly tapping calls in the motor system to help facilitate retrieval of
the information through multiple pathways). READ TWA full review Here
K.I.W.i. Storybooks is now available in minis! From the big panels that we have come to love for their sheer awe-inspiring detail and wonderment, are now coming out with a desktop junior version so that kids can explore the worlds on the go.
The news is simply exciting for itinerant teachers, librarians, therapists, or parents, as now the panels have all of the content available in a portable format. There are 9 different desktop theme sets, the same as with the large screens. Each set has two scenes one on the front and back related to the topic. There are three, three-panel sets: Ecosystems – including the rainforest and desert, Fire Safety, and a City/Farm. READ TWA full review Here
Lars and Friends by Carla Susanto is described by the developers on their homepage as Artisanal Children’s Storybook App Series. We wholeheartedly agree, this spectacularly simple app is a must have for several reasons! First off, children, as well as adults, appreciate the exceptional artwork, it is truly outstanding. Second, the story is enchanting and well executed; it celebrates language and reads like a poem.
A gorgeous red horse (that’s right RED) is the main character; he spends a full day with other animals in this unassuming story with just enough interactivity to compliment the plot. Lars ventures out and has a delightful journey with a bundle of different animal friends. READ TWA full review Here
GoldiLocks and Little Bear is a groundbreaking telling of the classic by Nosy Crow. Told from two points of view, that of Little Bear and Goldilocks, kids begin to learn about that others in relation to themselves. Nosy Crow has always been a leader in children’s literature, and this one uses the iPad to its full potential. Not only do kids drive the characters, but they are able to “flip” the iPad to see and listen to the other side of the story as told through the characters. Exploratory and independent play is also encouraged and facilitated by gentle nudges or cues. If a character has more to say, kids will see a blue dot to inquire more of a character. All hot spots are pertinent to the story and keep little ones on target to maximize comprehension. Top rate animation and narration make this a story to turn to again and again. Nosy Crow surely will have a favorite or two in their line-up. Check them out!
Queen Bee in Paris by Joshua Wilson is a wonder in exploring Paris. Accompanied by the message of staying true to your dreams, the story centers on the rich cultural traditions and attractions of France. Like all of The Happy Dandelion’ s Little Traveler’s Series, this book can be used and enriched for a variety of age groups in elementary school. Fun facts, maps, and language of the country can be listened to and tapped into learning more or read as the story itself. I really like their approach of first encouraging interaction between adults and children to receiving the content of the book, versus just having the text read aloud. This not only gives the child something to share with an adult but opens the world of language and all its nuances when reading aloud. Read our original review here.
Update: My Very Hungry Caterpillar has had its world transformed into a snowy holiday wonderland. Take care of him, it’s very cold!
* Winner of the 2015 Bologna Ragazzi Digital Award *
* Children’s Technology Review Editor’s Choice *
* Teachers With Apps Recommended *
Read the TWA Review Here.
What are your personal favorites of 2015? Please share, as we would love to hear more from all of you!