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Gift Guide: Kids’ Book Apps for iPad

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 9, 2010

This year, many people are predicting that Apple’s iPad will be the number one gift found under the Christmas tree. Assuming that you’ve embraced the notion of e-books—and you’re happy with the saying: “Any reading is good reading!”—we’re certain that you’ll be looking for a couple of book apps to get your iPad recipient started.

From the more traditional pieces of literature to the fun, book-related games; these apps are a great way to kick-start a new iPad library or add to an existing one. Hopefully this list makes your job of sifting through the hundreds or available apps just a little bit easier.


The Traditional

From Ruckus Media

Tom Thumb and the Knights of the Round Table
Told by John Cleese, illustrated by Tim Gabor, music by Elvis Costello

Price: $3.99 on iPhone / $3.99 on iPad

Publisher’s synopsis: John Cleese tells the tale of tiny Tom Thumb and his larger-than-life adventures in the land of King Arthur. Read along, play along, and record your voice with apps for families from Ruckus Media!

Features:

• READ the classic story!
• SEE the enchanting video!
• HEAR Emmy-Award winner John Cleese tell the story with an original score by recording artist Elvis Costello!
• RECORD your voice reading to your child!

Add this app to your collection: Tom Thumb and the Knights of the Round Table


The Velveteen Rabbit

Told by Meryl Streep, illustrated by Dave Jorgenson, music by George Winston

Price: $3.99 on iPhone / $3.99 on iPad

Publisher’s synopsis: Meryl Streep shares the tale of love so powerful it can turn a toy bunny into a real rabbit. Read along, play along, and record your voice with apps for families from Ruckus Media!

Features:
• READ the classic story!
• SEE the award-winning video!
• HEAR acclaimed actress Meryl Streep tell the story accompanied by pianist George Winston!
• RECORD your voice reading to your child!

Add this app to your collection: The Velveteen Rabbit


Johnny Appleseed

Told by Garrison Keillor, illustrated by Stan Olson, music by Mark O’Connor

Price: $3.99 on iPhone / $3.99 on iPad

Publisher’s synopsis: Garrison Keillor tells the story of gentle Johnny Appleseed who roamed the frontier planting apple trees and spreading goodwill. Read along, play along, and record your voice with apps for families from Ruckus Media!

Features:
• READ the classic story!
• SEE the award-winning video!
• HEAR acclaimed actress Meryl Streep tell the story accompanied by pianist George Winston!
• RECORD your voice reading to your child!

Add this app to your collection: Johnny Appleseed


Familiar Characters

From Oceanhouse Media

How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
By Dr. Seuss

Price: $3.99 on iPhone / $3.99 on iPad

Publisher’s synopsis: The Dr. Seuss classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” one of the top selling children’s books of all time, is now available for your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

Features:

  • “Read to Me” — listen to the narrated story with words highlighted as they are read
  • “Read it Myself” — read the book in its traditional form
  • “Auto Play” — plays like a movie, automatically reading and turning pages. Great for younger children!
  • Picture / Word association — words zoom up and are spoken when pictures are touched
  • Professional audio narration
  • Custom background audio for each scene
  • Pages pan & zoom to accentuate the beautiful, original art of Dr. Seuss
  • This ‘Universal App’ is optimized for both iPhone and iPad

Add this app to your collection: How The Grinch Stole Christmas!


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Price: $2.99 on iPhone / $2.99 on iPad

Publisher’s synopsis: POOR RUDOLPH! All the other reindeer make fun of his bright red nose and won’t let him play in their reindeer games. But when Christmas is almost canceled because of a huge snowstorm, Rudolph comes to Santa’s rescue!

Features:

  • “Read to Me” — listen to the narrated story with words highlighted as they are read
  • “Read it Myself” — read the book in its traditional form
  • “Auto Play” — plays like a movie, automatically reading and turning pages. Great for younger children!
  • Find hidden sounds by tapping within the pictures
  • Professional audio narration
  • Custom background audio for each scene
  • Pages pan & zoom to accentuate the colorful, original artwork

Add this app to your collection: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer


Just Grandma and Me

By Mercer Mayer

Price: $1.99 on iPhone / $1.99 on iPad

Publisher’s synopsis: Little Critter and his grandmother decide to spend a day at the beach! Little Critter is a good helper, even at the beach. When his grandmother’s hot dog falls in the sand, he washes it off in the ocean. He promises to blow up the inflatable sea horse but needs a little help in the end. The joys and mishaps of a special summer day with Grandma are all brightened by Little Critter’s sunny disposition!

Features:

  • “Read to Me” — listen to the narrated story with words highlighted as they are read
  • “Read it Myself” — read the book in its traditional form
  • “Auto Play” — plays like a movie, automatically reading and turning pages. Great for younger children!
  • Picture / Word association — words zoom up and are spoken when pictures are touched
  • Find the creature mini-game
  • Professional audio narration
  • Custom background audio for each scene
  • Pages pan & zoom to accentuate the beautiful, original art of Mercer Mayer

Add this app to your collection: Just Grandma and Me



The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree

By Stan & Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain

Price: Coming soon

Publisher’s synopsis: In “The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree,” finding the perfect tree is very important for Papa Bear and his cubs. While hunting for that one special tree the family meets up with the animals that live in the trees and all learn an important lesson.

As the story unfolds Papa, Brother, and Sister Bear realize that the trees are perfect homes for the animals and show kindness and love for their fellow Bear Country friends by not cutting them down. In the end the animals from the forest work together to thank the Bear Family in a wonderful and unique way.

Features:

  • “Read to Me” — listen to the narrated story with words highlighted as they are read
  • “Read it Myself” — read the book in its traditional form
  • “Auto Play” — plays like a movie, automatically reading and turning pages. Great for younger children!
  • Picture / Word association — words zoom up and are spoken when pictures are touched
  • Professional audio narration
  • Custom background audio for each scene
  • Pages pan & zoom to accentuate the beautiful, original art of the Berenstains

Add this app to your collection: The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree


Tacky’s Christmas

By Helen Lester

Price: Coming soon

Publisher’s synopsis: Tacky, Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect are celebrating the holiday with good cheer, singing, and lots of presents. Tacky’s present is a little bit different, and not exactly what his friends had in mind, but when the Christmas merrymaking is interrupted by hunters in search of pretty penguins, it’s Tacky’s gift that helps to save the day…

Features:

  • “Read to Me” — listen to the narrated story with words highlighted as they are read
  • “Read it Myself” — read the book in its traditional form
  • “Auto Play” — plays like a movie, automatically reading and turning pages. Great for younger children!
  • Picture / Word association — words zoom up and are spoken when pictures are touched
  • Professional audio narration
  • Custom background audio for each scene
  • Pages pan & zoom to accentuate the colorful, original artwork

Add this app to your collection: Tacky’s Christmas


Book-Related Games & Puzzles

From Scholastic

I SPY Spooky Mansion

Price: $0.99 on iPhone / $3.99 on iPad

Publisher’s synopsis: The overwhelmingly popular, search and find game makes a splash on the iPhone™ and iPod touch®! Play the hidden object adventure based on Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick’s best-selling I SPY Spooky Night book.

Features:

  • Adventure Themed Gameplay: Unlock areas of the mansion by solving riddles. To make your escape, explore the spooky and creepy grounds in search of seven keys that open the front gate.
  • 21 I SPY Riddles: Use the map to find and unlock the 21 I SPY riddles lurking on the estate. To solve the riddles, look for the objects listed in the I SPY riddle.
  • Zoom Function: Zoom functionality allows for up to 300% magnification to help find the most cleverly hidden objects.
  • Riddles Read Aloud: Voiceovers read all of the I SPY riddles aloud to help younger players just learning how to read.

Add this app to your collection: I SPY Spooky Mansion


I SPY Riddle Race

Price: $0.99 on iPhone

Publisher’s synopsis: I SPY Riddle Race combines the signature hidden object play of I SPY with the fun appeal of board games and fast-paced challenges. Based on the best-selling books from Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick, I SPY Riddle Race boasts 60 I SPY puzzles, two play modes and numerous bonus challenges!

Features:

  • Two Ways to Play: Solve riddles at your own pace in Practice Mode without the stress or pressure of the clock. This mode is great for younger players, allowing them to solve riddles one after another. Or, select Riddle Race Mode to enter a game board with three riddle areas, a bonus round and added challenges. Race against the clock while solving riddles to earn as many points as you can.
  • 60 I SPY Riddles: Search and find hundreds of objects in 60 I SPY riddles. To solve the riddles, look for the objects listed in the I SPY riddle.
  • Game Boards: 20 game boards—each featuring three unique I SPY riddles. Solve all three before time runs out to advance to the bonus round.
  • Bonus Challenges: Test your memory in the bonus round that challenges players to find objects across a set of riddles. Find as many objects as you can before time runs out to rack up points.
  • Zoom Function: Zoom functionality allows for up to 300% magnification to help find the most cleverly hidden objects.
  • Riddles Read Aloud: Voiceovers read all of the I SPY riddles aloud to help younger players just learning how to read.
  • High Scores: Earn as many points as you can, and then play again and again to see if you can beat it. The game tracks the best 100 scores.

Add this app to your collection: I SPY Riddle Race


Clifford’s BE BIG with Words

Price: $0.99 on iPhone / $3.99 on iPad

Publisher’s synopsis: Clifford the Big Red Dog™ and friends share their BIG adventures for kids on the iPhone™ and iPod ®touch!

Help Clifford, Cleo and T-Bone give Jetta ideas of things to paint by spelling words. As they play, kids will experiment with letters and letter sounds as they learn to spell three-letter words. Kids are guided toward spelling the words by choosing from a selection of letters from Jetta’s painter’s palette. Once a word is spelled, watch as a picture is painted of the word to show its meaning!

Features:

  • Characters from the beloved book series and the hit TV series that airs daily on PBS Kids. Clifford, Cleo, T-Bone, Emily Elizabeth and Jetta have lots of word-building fun for kids.
  • Over 100 Words: Build a child’s vocabulary with 115 three-letter words that are age-appropriate and found in everyday life.
  • Word-Building, Spelling & Vocabulary: Kids will learn how to use letters to build words in an engaging way along with their beloved friend, Clifford. Additionally, kids will learn to associate words with the objects they represent, an essential still for language development.
  • Phonics: Once a word is completed, each letter that spells the word is read out loud. Additionally, each word is pronounced showing kids the connection between sounds, words and their spellings. Building an understanding of words through alphabetic and phonemic awareness is critical in cultivating reading skills in young children.
  • Builds Confidence: Vocabulary words are pre-selected, so kids will always be able to spell a word and become familiar with its meaning.
  • Fun Rewards: Watch as Jetta paints a picture of the word and Emily Elizabeth, Clifford, Cleo and T-Bone show its meaning.

Add this app to your collection: Clifford’s BE BIG with Words


The 39 Clues Madrigal Maze

Price: $0.99 on iPhone

Publisher’s synopsis: Solve a mystery that spans the world and history!

Every family has its secrets and the Cahill family is searching for one that leads to unimaginable power. To reveal it, the Cahills must embark on a dangerous hunt for 39 Clues hidden around the world. The Cahills aren’t the only ones looking for the clues—a group called the Madrigals secretly has been in the hunt for the clues leading to ultimate power and world domination!

Features:

  • 39 Puzzles: Navigate a labyrinth of passageways as you solve 39 mazes. Move your character through the mazes with the touch of your finger.
  • Strategy and Leveled Gameplay: The mazes increase in difficulty with each passing level. Learn to evade guards, manage gats and switches, and dodge deadly traps.
  • Unlock a Secret Madrigal Encryption Key: Successfully navigate mazes to receive exclusive access to a secret Madrigal Encryption Key. Unlock the Key directly from your iPhone or iPod touch.
  • The 39 Clues Mythology: Get an inside look at the Cahills. Discover which famous historical figures belong to the Janus, Lucian, Ekaterina and Tomas branches along with how they shaped the world we know today.

Add this app to your collection: The 39 Clues Madrigal Maze


Goosebumps PhotoShock

Price: $0.99 on iPhone

Publisher’s synopsis: Turn your photographs into fright-ographs and give your friends a real scare! Customize photos of you into an ever so ghastly Goosebumps fright! Or “PhotoShock” pictures of friends with over 100 horrifying and creepy icons, objects and frames. Add googly eyes, spiders or slime to photos—or even add messages.

Features:

  • Over 100 scary stickers to customize any photo
  • Add shocking messages like “You look delicious!” and body parts like googly eyes, bat ears or horns
  • Edit by moving, resizing or rotating your photos and stickers
  • Save your ghastly photos to your iPhone or iPod Touch
  • Share your ghoulish photos—email to friends or select your photo from your iPhone or iPod Touch album and post to your social networks

Add this app to your collection: Goosebumps PhotoShock


Learning to Read

From Learning Touch

Bob Books #1 – Reading Magic

Price: $2.99 on iPhone / $2.99 on iPad

Publisher’s synopsis: Millions of kids have learned to read with Bob Books. Now Bob Books is coming to the iPhone with Bob Books Reading Magic!

Features:

  • Bob Books Reading Magic will show your child how to:
    • Make the connection between letters and sounds.
    • Sound out simple words.
    • Spell the words they’ve read.
  • The game includes twelve scenes for a total of 32 words. Four game levels provide increasing challenges to children as they play.

Add this app to your collection: Bob Books #1 – Reading Magic


iPad image courtesy of novemberwolf

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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