Like most parents, I'm concerned that my kids get too much "screen time," what with the TV, computer, Wii, iPod/iPad, and so on. But if that time is spent reading, or at least flipping the pages of a book, I don't mind it one bit.
That's why I continue to be a relentless fan of children's e-books, which are increasingly abundant for iOS devices. Indeed, in the last couple of weeks alone, nearly a dozen new and noteworthy titles have arrived in the App Store. Here are the ones I think make for worthwhile screen time.
"Horton Hears a Who" and "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back": Two of my favorite Dr. Seuss titles just arrived in Oceanhouse Media's ever-growing catalog. Both on sale for $2.99, and in fact all the Seuss apps have been discounted from 25-75 percent off (this week only) in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday.
"Jeremy Fisher: Buddy Edition": "The Tale of Jeremy Fisher" comes from Beatrix Potter, who, of course, is best known for "Peter Rabbit." I won't say this story has the same appeal, but it does offer an interesting gimmick: Buddy Reading, which leverages Game Center to allow a parent or other relative to read the story on one device while the child listens on another. Setup is a one-time hassle, but this could be great for the parent who travels a lot. The app costs $1.99; you'll need to buy it twice, once for each device.
"The Magic School Bus: Oceans": I've often found the "Magic School Bus" books a bit tricky to read aloud to kids, if only because of the heavy use of comic book-style word balloons. The app version ($7.99) solves that handily by highlighting each word as it's read aloud--and using different voices for each character. It also has photos, videos, a learning game, and interactive science lessons. Alas, it's for iPad only.
"The Penelope Rose": This decidedly girl-centric title ($6.99), also for iPad only, has a gimmick of its own: 3D artwork that doesn't require special glasses. Instead, you just tilt the iPad back and forth, which creates a very cool illusion of 3D. Beyond that, it's a beautifully illustrated fairytale about, well, fairies. And roses.
"Violet and the Mystery Next Door": Given the title, you might mistake this for another girls-only story, but there's appeal here for boys as well. The fourth book in the Violet series ($3.99) features choose-your-own-adventure elements and a big helping of interactive features.
Have you found any other children's e-books worth recommending? If so, turn the page (so to speak) and name them in the comments.