The Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss

Buy $3.99

The Cat in the Hat is obviously a 'must have' in any collection, whether it's a digital library or a set of hardcover books with gilded pages. This version is no exception, with bright beautiful pictures of the beloved classic Dr. Seuss. For the read-a-long effect, each word is highlighted as it is read. Although each page is essentially a still image, many pages begin by panning over Seuss' classic original artwork, zooming in and out to show off each segment of text, a nice semi-animated style.

Otherwise, the book has no real animation, although most of the items pictured in the story react to a light tap with a visual image of the word with accompanying audio (for example, tap on the ball and the word 'ball' appears with audio saying “ball”). These word 'interactions' are literally hidden all over every page (for example, touch in a blank area within the house & 'house' appears on the screen).  The words that appear refer to the characters and items around the house, as well as concepts like “wet” when touching the rain streaked window or “play” when touching the bike (this confused my child a bit).

All of the Dr. Seuss book apps have this same style of interaction.  It isn't bad at first, but it repeats indefinitely as long as the child keeps touching the screen. If the child touches the screen over and over in the same spot, the word appears over and over in a cascade of letters that fills the screen along with accompanied audio of the word repeating rapidly. Thankfully new updates allow users to turn this feature off, for young readers who need less distraction.

While this digital book can seem less interactive than other book apps, I appreciate that the developer stayed true to the educational purpose of Seuss. This and several other Seuss titles aimed specifically at children learning to read were developed in an interesting way. According to Wikipedia, "a list was compiled of 348 words that were important for first-graders to recognize, then cut to 250 words and the task was to write a book using only those words. They wanted Seuss to 'bring back a book children can't put down.' Nine months later, using 236 of the words given to him, he completed The Cat in the Hat."

February 2011: An update to this & the other Seuss apps has reduced the number of times the interactive 'words' appear, greatly reducing my son's desire to 'over-tap' - very responsive developer with an eye on the educational needs of young pre-readers!

September 2012: Update includes the addition of a page guide, additional settings for sound and the ability to record your own narration. These setting also allow for tappable images within the book app to be turned off, a useful feature for both silent reading and in educational settings.