The Land of Me - Story Time by Made in Me Ltd.

This book app is one of the finest examples of digital storytelling to come across my tablet in a long time. It is beautifully made, created by The Land of Me. Upon opening it, readers are greeted by a scene with a serious but loving storyteller in the form of Granny Olive and three juveniles: a bear named Buddy Boo, a raccoon named Eric and a bird named Willow. This wise old tortoise will have your child as enthralled as her three charges, the minute you open this app. It is lovingly detailed, solidly built and thoughtfully tailored to its target audience of ages 2-6+.

While the stories in this app are very short (barely 2 minutes long), there is enormous replay value, since there are Read more …

OnceAppon - A good night story maker for kids by OnceAppon

OnceAppon, released in May 2014, is a beautifully-illustrated app that invites users to assemble a “hero” with an avatar maker, and see that hero imported into a readable story customized with their own choices. It’s the most exciting ebook and creation app for young children (preK-1st) that I’ve seen in a long time. As of now, OnceAppon is free for iPad, with no Android version. It lends itself to hours and hours of individual use, and could be an absolutely magical addition to a digital storytime.

The details:

OnceAppon’s avatar maker is wonderful, offering lots–but not an overwhelming amount–of options for customizing your hero’s hair, Read more …

Big Nate: Comix By U! HD by Night & Day Studios, Inc.

From Night & Day Studios comes a truly exceptional app for creativity. Fans of Lincoln Pierce's "Big Nate" series will not be disappointed by this full-featured comic book creation app. My seven-year old is a recent fan of these stories, about a 6th grade boy and his friends. Familiar scenes from school and home draw young readers into this fun series, ideal for upper elementary school and early middle school readers, especially boys.

Parents should know that this app does not include a lot of reading content, but is instead intended to inspire your young storytellers to create their own simple narratives in comic-book fashion. The app has a half dozen examples of the Big Nate comic Read more …

Jazzy World Tour - Musical Journey for Kids by The Melody Book LLC

Jazzy World Tour - Musical Journey for Kids, from My Melody Book is much more than a reading app, although it includes plenty to explore in text, describing each of the locations on the map. These include the United States (New York), Ireland, Brazil, Spain, Egypt, Kenya, India, Japan and Australia. Children can record their travels in a digital travel book, collecting photos of their journey. The navigation is intuitive in this solidly made app for children ages 3 to 8.

Each location has the choice of Learn, Create and Play. Tap "Learn" and you can tap items like musical instruments, traditional foods and other items from each culture featured to find out more about them. Tap "Play" to Read more …

Collins Big Cat: At the Dump Story Creator by Harper Collins Publishers Limited

The Collins Big Cat series was created in the past decade by UK based Collins Education, the third-largest educational publishing house in the United Kingdom, and an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. At the Dump, based on the print title by Claire Llewellyn and Ley Honor Roberts, was published in 2007. According to the description:

"This book focuses on the core topics of biology with a friendly writing style and vivid illustrations while exploring current "real world" issues. A seven-part organization covers atoms, molecules, and cells; energy and life; genetics; evolution and the diversity of life; human anatomy and physiology; and plant anatomy and physiology. For Read more …

Collins Big Cat: The Farmer’s Lunch Story Creator by Harper Collins Publishers Limited

The Collins Big Cat series was created in the past decade by UK based Collins Education, the third-largest educational publishing house in the United Kingdom, and an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. The Farmer's Lunch, based on the print title by Paul Shipton, was published in 2009. According to the description:

"It's lunchtime and the farmer's hungry, but his lunch box is empty! He turns to all the animals on his farm for help, the sheep, cows, horses and geese, but they are all being very secretive. Are they hiding his lunch, or a much bigger and better surprise? The delightful illustrations develop the text, providing lots of points for discussion." Read more …

Collins Big Cat: Around the World Story Creator by Harper Collins Publishers Limited

The Collins Big Cat series was created in the past decade by UK based Collins Education, the third-largest educational publishing house in the United Kingdom, and an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. Around the World, based on the print title by James Carter with illustrations from Cliff Moon, was published in 2007. According to the description:

"Traversing across the world by train, boat and plane, the two children in this story poem encounter the extremes of sun and snow travelling to Africa, India and China. The book begins with a poem, before revealing their journey's details, and repetitive questions encourage the reader to turn the page and continue Read more …

Collins Big Cat: Playing Story Creator by Harper Collins Publishers Limited

The Collins Big Cat series was created in the past decade by UK based Collins Education, the third-largest educational publishing house in the United Kingdom, and an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. Playing, based on the print title by Tim Hopgood, was published in 2010. According to the description:

"It's fun to play outside, and these three children enjoy it in all seasons, summer, autumn, winter and spring - whatever the weather! Each season is evocatively illustrated by Tim Hopgood - 2008 winner of Booktrust's Best Emerging Illustrator Award, developing the text and encouraging discussion." [Source: Amazon]

In digital form, this series features light Read more …

Collins Big Cat: The Steam Train Story Creator by Harper Collins Publishers Limited

The Collins Big Cat series was created in the past decade by UK based Collins Education, the third-largest educational publishing house in the United Kingdom, and an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. The Steam Train based on the print title by Ian Whybrow, was published in 2009. According to the description:

"The steam train is pulling out of the station, it heads to the hills, into a rainstorm, through a tunnel and out the other side into the sunshine and to the seaside. Follow the rhythm and the rhyme of this simple poem and travel with the train on its wonderful adventure, beautifully illustrated by Rosalind Hudson." [Source: Amazon]

In digital Read more …

Collins Big Cat In The Garden Story Creator by Harper Collins Publishers Limited

The Collins Big Cat series was created in the past decade by UK based Collins Education, the third-largest educational publishing house in the United Kingdom, and an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. In the Garden, based on the print title by Mitch Cronick with illustrations from Melanie Sharp, was published in 2005. According to the description:

"What happens when Mum is in the garden tidying up, but the children just want to play? This simple, humorous story book shows two boys creating mayhem while Mum works on, unaware. It explores the different places they find to play, from the tent, to the sandpit, through the grass, the leaves and the mud before finally Read more …

Fancy Nancy Dress Up by Bean Creative

Do you know a little girl who would like to play dress up with Fancy Nancy? Based on the 2005 Jane O'Connor title that held the top spot on the New York Times Bestseller list for almost 100 weeks, this app is an exceptional offering for creative play. A very short story about a party little Nancy is attending is included, but the real highlight is the free-form dress-up playtime this app provides.

The app has a very nice set of directions under "How to Play". This explains that there are five slots to save images to, within the app. Each of these pictures can be created with lots of choices including different backgrounds, stamps of items to place around the scene and lots of dress-up Read more …

Sassy Cassie HD by Take 2 Ventures LLC

Sassy Cassie is spunky and creative and nothing is going to stop her from making her mark on the world. Her surprise artistic creation at the end of the book is exasperating, but also lovable. PicPocket Books brings quality children's picture book literature to digital media. Now, children can enjoy their favorites stories on-the-go, even when they do not have a physical book to read.

This interactive CHILDREN'S STORYBOOK app promotes EARLY LEARNING and helps your children develop READING skills by connecting the audio words and sounds with the written word on the page. PicPocket Books offer a unique and new experience, combining the beauty of quality picture books with audio Read more …

Halloween eBook by Paul Harrington

A simple but very unique little book with narration and the ability to personalize each page with a photo of your child. Designed by a mom for her autistic son to “help teach children to identify, label, and categorize words, by commenting on the text and pictures.

The question ‘Where?’ is used repeatedly throughout the book to help children learn location concepts such as- ‘in front of’, ‘behind’, & ‘next to.’” Tap text to trigger narration. This is a FREE app that has lots of potential. 

This title is one of over a dozen titles briefly reviewed for a special post, "Enhanced Spookiness! Top 10 iPad Book Apps for Read more …

Auracle – Dr. Duncan Dog on Duty by Auryn, Inc

Duncan is a dog with a purpose, visiting patients in the hospital to help them feel better. And he's part of a diverse family where everyone has important work they love to do. Based on the fun print title published in 2007, this app features lots of great enhancements, including the ability to fully personalize the story and record your own narration.

The app features charming illustrations with lots of detail. The story is told in pictures as much as words, making it an ideal title for children to re-write as a way to build their own storytelling skills. This book is also lightly interactive, featuring images that name themselves when tapped. For instance, tap on Duncan to see & hear Read more …

Auracle – The Trees Grin Beside Me by Auryn, Inc

This is a poem-like story with light interactivity and unique personalization settings. It is told in the first person by a little girl who is exploring a forest. Images depict each of the seasons while the little girl compares her own body to the trees around her, seeing the connectedness of nature.

This book was published first in print in 2010 and features rhyming text by Michelle Macdonald. The trees are depicted with expressive faces that will appeal to kids in the richly colored illustrations by Leah Davis. Users can edit the text of the book to change it or rewrite the story in its entirety, as well as record their own narration. Each page can also be tapped to see Read more …

Auracle HD – Winter Is by Auryn, Inc

Cute storybook about the excitement of a chilly Northwest winter by Puget Sound native and Alaska resident, Ann Dixon. Wonderful educational enhancements are the main perk of Auryn Apps digital re-imagining of this 2002 print title. Words highlight as narrated word-for-word & interactivity is strictly informational. Tap any word in the text to hear the audio again or tap any image to hear and see the word. Color-drenched illustrations & nice page-layouts in this digital title make for one very nice seasonal read.

This title is one of over two dozen titles briefly reviewed for a special post in our blog for the winter holidays, 2011.

Auracle - Tail Toes Eyes Ears Nose - HD by Auryn, Inc

"Tail, Toes, Eyes, Ears, Nose," repeats this app that is less of a storybook and more of an educational app based on a print title. Animals from an elephant to a bird (and even a human) are shown with just their body parts. After naming each part, readers can see the whole animal emerge.

This app is based on an out-of-print book published in 1992 and is great for toddlers & preschoolers. The reinforcement of all the body parts is 'spot on' for this age group's developmental needs. It also does a great job engaging the very short attention span of children under 5, although this also means this app is a bit light on content, lasting barely 3 minutes on autoplay.

As a print title, this Read more …

Auracle - Love You to the Moon & Back by Auryn, Inc

This inspirational little book is filled with warm illustrations that evoke a simpler time along with lyrical text that reads like a poem or love letter. The book is very short but can be personalized with your own text and narration. It also features lovely narration that highlights as read and simple, but intuitive settings.

The book is not animated but does have a little interactivity. If you tap on many of the images, a word briefly appears to represent that image along with audio voice-over. This solidly made book also has easy-to-read text suitable for young readers, along with swipe-style page turning.

Personalization settings allow the user to enter their own text & narration Read more …

Auracle - Hurray for Pre-K! by Auryn, Inc

Hurray for Pre-K! is not a traditional storybook, but instead a delightful mix of photographs and text. Based on the print book published in 2000, by Ellen B. Senisi, this is a popular title for preparing youngsters for preschool. A diverse classroom of children (from New York State) is pictured, showing all the rituals that are reinforced for young students during their first school experience. The book is repetitive and a bit dry, but perfect for the age group it is designed to reach.

Getting ready for school is an important activity for young children and this book could provide them with a unique way to prepare in advance. The book can even be personalized significantly. Not only Read more …

Monsters University Storybook Deluxe by Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications

Mike and Sully will soon return in Monster’s University, a prequel to Disney’s über-successful movie Monster’s Inc. In preparation for the movies’ release the developers at Disney Interactive have just released Monster’s University Storybook Deluxe, a universal app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad that is certain to be a hit with kids who are anticipating the film’s release. As it begins, the story draws the reader in, inviting her to create an ID -– just like at a real college! Kids can also return later to create additional IDs for their siblings, friends, or even their stuffed animals.

The reader can also decorate her face with monster Read more …

Auracle – MIKO "Mom, Wake up and Play!" – HD by Auryn, Inc

The Miko series, by talented author Brigitte Weninger, has been among my child's favorites in print for many years. This title was published in 2005 and features a story about little Miko (an adorable mouse) waking up too early and wanting his mom to get up and play with him. I was delighted to have this title for my digital library, since it is out-of-print. I especially love the beautiful illustrations of Stephanie Roehe that pair so nicely with the sweet stories in this series.

"Can I sleep until the alarm clock rings? Pleasssse?" begs Miko's mom as she snuggles back under the covers. Sound familiar? Miko tries to find something interesting to do while his mom is Read more …

Auracle HD – Miko "No Bath! No Way!" by Auryn, Inc

The Miko series, by talented author Brigitte Weninger, has been among my child's favorites in print for many years, published in the past decade. I especially love the beautiful illustrations of Stephanie Roehe that pair so nicely with the sweet stories in this series. In this title, Miko's doesn't want to take a bath.

Miko's ever patient mother tries to draw him out of his hiding spot, but ultimately lets him go to sleep unwashed. However her solution is that he can sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag instead of his nice clean bed. "It will be like camping!" exclaims Miko, but his enthusiasm wears off after a few minutes of snuggling in his dirty spot on the Read more …

Auracle HD - Miko "Wants a Dog" by Auryn, Inc

The Miko series, by talented author Brigitte Weninger, has been among my child's favorites in print for many years, published in the past decade. I especially love the beautiful illustrations of Stephanie Roehe that pair so nicely with the sweet stories in this series. In this title, Miko is desperate to have a dog. "Mom, can I pleeeeease have a real dog?" begs the little mouse, hoping his mother will change her mind. When his mother reminds Miko that since no one is home at their house during the day, a dog would get much too lonely.

Luckily, just as little Miko is wallowing in his doglessness, he hears the sounds of a real dog nearby. Across the fence, he Read more …

Auracle – Miko "Double Birthday!" – HD by Auryn, Inc

The Miko books, by talented author Brigitte Weninger, have been among my child's favorites in print for many years, published in the past decade. I especially love the beautiful illustrations of Stephanie Roehe that pair so nicely with the sweet stories in this series. In this title, it's Miko's birthday and also that of his doll ... a double birthday.

Miko is so excited for his big day, but he worries that Mimiki, his doll, won't get any presents. At first Miko is distracted by all the new toys, forgetting about Mimiki, but in the end, he finds lots of creative ways to incorporate the little doll into his play. A dated reference to a cassette Read more …

Auracle HD - Miko "Goes on Vacation" by Auryn, Inc

The Miko books, by talented author Brigitte Weninger, have been among my child's favorites in print for many years, all published in the past decade. I especially love the beautiful illustrations of Stephanie Roehe that pair so nicely with the sweet stories in this series. In this title, Miko and his mom go to the beach. Feeling nervous about being someplace new where he doesn't know anyone, Miko begins to worry that he shouldn't leave Mimiki alone, even to go swimming.

In a lovely plot twist, Miko finds his own solution by reaching out to another child, under a neighboring beach umbrella. He asks the little girl to watch Mimiki for him. Read more …

Auracle HD – Miko "Where is Mimiki" by Auryn, Inc

The Miko books, by talented author Brigitte Weninger, have been among my child's favorites in print for many years, published in the past decade. I especially love the beautiful illustrations of Stephanie Roehe that pair so nicely with the sweet stories in this series. In this title, Miko can't find his 'lovey' Mimiko, a little mouse-doll that he always has as a companion in the series.

After searching high and low, Miko and his mom still cannot find Mimiki. Any parent of small children knows the panic that sets in after an exhaustive search for a special toy. My child seemed near tears himself, listening to the page about Miko having to go Read more …

Auracle HD - Miko "Moves Out" by Auryn, Inc

The Miko series, by talented author Brigitte Weninger, has been among my child's favorites in print for many years, published in the past decade. I especially love the beautiful illustrations of Stephanie Roehe that pair so nicely with the sweet stories in this series. In this title, the eighth and final release of the Auryn Apps series in digital, Miko's mom interrupts his playtime one day to ask him to do his chores. "I'll do it as soon as I'm finished," says the sullen little mouse, upset at the request. When his mother says, "No, you'll do it right now!" Miko loses his temper, yelling "No, I won't!" and "I'm moving out!" as he grabs his doll Mimiki and Read more …

Auracle – Miko "It was me, Mom!" – HD by Auryn, Inc

The Miko series, by talented author Brigitte Weninger, has been among my child's favorites in print for many years. This title was published in 2005 and features a story about little Miko (an adorable mouse) breaking a vase while his mom is out. Miko has to decide how to tell her even though he's afraid she'll be mad. I was delighted to have this title for my digital library, since it is out-of-print. I especially love the beautiful illustrations of Stephanie Roehe that pair so nicely with the sweet stories in this series.

"Mom will be mad when she finds out! Maybe we won't get dessert anymore." worries Miko, talking to his stuffed mouse named Mimiki. Miko cleans up Read more …

Collins Big Cat: My Bike Ride Story Creator by Harper Collins Publishers Limited

I really wanted to like this title, even love it, given that it is currently free and from Haper Collins, one of the world's largest publishing companies. It is part of the "Big Cat" series of apps, all of which include a specialized 'story creation' tool. There are several other apps in the series, including others I enjoyed, although none of them properly work in story creation mode.

But this title also gets very confusing with its basic interactive elements, taking a lovely (although quite simple) title from a print publication in 2006 and reissuing it in digital in a way that makes it nearly un-usable. It is currently free, along with a number of other titles in this series, so worth a Read more …

ToonSpaghetti Story Lab by TechSpaghetti UG (haftungsbeschraenkt)

ToonSpaghetti Story Lab opens up little users are asked to choose between a male and female character and then launches straight into the first story. During the first play through, a little robot friend helps guide your little one through the process of adding in music and sound effects that reflect and reinforce the mood of the story. As we progress to later parts of the story, your child will have to identify the moods when prompted.

Your child will get to choose between three snips of music for each leg of the story, and what they choose can really give the story a different feel. They will also be able to insert up to four different sound effects within each leg of the story, placing Read more …

Photo Tales - Create Photo Stories with Your Kids by tho pham

PhotoTales by Tho Pham is an app for iOS which allows your family to customize a story with your photos and images based on the text provided.  For the purposes of this review, I looked at “A Happy Day in the Zoo” which I customized to be about a recent family trip to the zoo using included images and my own personal photos to make the story more interesting and help to engage my son.  The first time we created the story, my son and I did it together using photos from my iPhone as well as those I stored on our Bevy to pull into the book.  We completed it together and then saved it off to our computer.  The second time I did the same book, I was Read more …

HangArt: Play Hangman, Draw Pictures, Tell Stories by LITERARY SAFARI INC

Beginning with the opening screen and spying that Mondrian inspired logo, you just know you’re going to be in for some fun with Literary Safari’s HangArt. It has some of the features that we love from classic games like Scrabble, Pictionary, and Mad Libs and combines them in one app cohesively.

There are a lot of learning objectives packed into this little game; Whoops – I mean educational app. Kids K-3 will not even realize the extent of what they are taking in because the app is centered on play. There are 3 modes to choose from, Classic Hangman, Word Gallery (intro to grammar), and Story Studio; and each one is addictive.

Plenty of research has gone into the Read more …

tapStory by Owen Mathews

The app opens with a few easy set-ups. One of the most important is setting up a parent passcode to keep little fingers from accessing purchases or external links. Once the passcode is established, kids are free to tap and explore or parents can sit down with their kiddos and learn how to create together. The homescreen gives access to both of the free stories, "Pea and Carrot" and "Ten Birds" as well as seven stories available for purchase that range in price from $2.99 to $7.99. Users can also get straight to creating their own stories using characters and backgrounds from the stories that are included or purchased. The homescreen also has what they call an "apron" which is a menu Read more …

An Adventure Of Our Own by Two Way Play, LLC

An Adventure of Our Own is an exceptional co-play app from a new development studio called Two Way Play. Their mission is to create interactive play environments for children to share with each other and the loving adults in their lives. These cooperative play opportunities are invaluable, making this app a great option for engaging your children in creative adventures that help them express feelings, problem-solve and make decisions.

Innovative ways to transform screen time into skill building in children are invaluable. This app for kids 6 an up does this (and more) with a storytelling style that provides lots of story ideas but no clear narrative besides the one users create themselves. Read more …