It’s time for Digital-Storytime’s fourth annual “best of the best” list for the top picture book apps for children, ages 2-12! This year we are breaking the list down into five separate categories, including this one – five apps about art, music and poetry. There’s a little something for everyone, toddlers through tweens, taking readers from Shakespeare to Miles Davis with well-executed apps about the arts.
You can see the other categories and get more information about our reviews, here: http://digitalmediadiet.com/?p=3261.
At Digital-Storytime, we take book apps seriously, as both books and apps. This format is all we review for a reason. We believe the best formats for presenting good books will always be story-driven and reader-driven, not technology-driven; technology may be how we tell stories, but it should never be why we tell stories. In a sea of content, it can be difficult to separate a fun kids app that happens to have a storyline from more meaty literature and educational content for young audiences. We hope we’ve helped.
Top Five Best Children’s Book Apps – Art, Music & Poetry
This extraordinary picture book app is based on the board book by the same name, published in print in 2013. So Many Stars is a whimsical and nearly wordless celebration of the artistic vision of Andy Warhol. According to the developers, the “So” series of illustrations created by Warhol was intended to:
” … explore the concept of ‘So,’ including You Are So Big, You Are So Small, So Sweet, and I Love You So. Filled with sweet phrases that will enthrall parents and children alike, Warhol’s So Many Stars is a terrific introduction to an iconic modern artist. These illustrations are bundled in a unique ‘So’ book for children.”
Featuring beautifully timed interactions and animation, this title goes far beyond the usual app, expecting young readers to consider each page individually for an immersive experience that is both satisfying and emotionally complex.
Starting Shakespeare, by Deeper Richer, is a brilliant new addition to the app store; this 21st century rendition would make William proud. This app does what most teachers fail to do, make Shakespeare easily accessible to younger students and clarify the story-lines without ever giving up any of Shakespeare’s original integrity.
Starting Shakespeare explores both the world and work of William Shakespeare using two of his best-loved and most popular plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth. I admire this Australian based development team for producing this state of the art teaching tool and hope to spread the word far and wide. Get this this one out to the kids! Starting Shakespeare has some of the BEST quality video we’ve ever seen in an app, which makes it easily adaptable to the projection screen, giving it another plus in the classroom setting.
(Guest review from TeachersWithApps.com)
There are very few apps that come across my tablet these days that ‘wow’ me on any level. Love, the app is simply the most exceptional app I have seen in 2014 and would be in my “all time” top 10 for the BEST offerings for children AND adults in the digital app market since its inception five years ago. It embodies every element of a good story, irregardless of format. It is moving, thoughtfully constructed and experienced on an almost visceral level when delivered in the beautiful digital “app” package from Niño Studio.
“Once upon a time … there was a little girl,” begins this heart-wrenching and (in the end) uplifting storybook. Her parents “went away” when she was nine and she ends up in an orphanage. Beautiful line-drawings, music and nifty paper-cut outs tell the story in an avant garde way, but the effect is not merely a sum of this app’s parts. Even the best scenes, like a stone cut-out that slides in place to show the ‘not-so’ pretty girl, create an ambiance but do not overshadow the intensity of the narrative.
Based on a print title, also published this year, I Love You Too, is a digital book by Ziggy Marley. It is based on Marley’s 2009 song by the same name, featuring the power of love between a parent and child. According to Ziggy:
“One day I was in my kitchen making breakfast with my then three-year-old daughter Judah. She looked at me and said, ‘I love you.’ I spontaneously replied to her, ‘I love you too.’ From that came the song and now the book based on the lyrics. I hope you share and enjoy this with your loved ones as I have with mine.”
This powerful and well-loved song makes a beautiful story, accompanied by color-drenched illustrations from Ag Jatkowska. The digital platform is from Oceanhouse Media’s OM Book template. Readers see the original print images, paced nicely with the text as the app pans over them in a semi-animated style.
A Song for Miles, by Tiffany Simpkins Russell, PhD with illustrations by Raheli Scarborough is a born-digital title (published initially as an eBook and book app with no paper version) in August of 2011. It is available as a digital book without enhancements (as a Kindle eBook) in addition to this app version. At the time it was promoted as the “First Black Digital Storybook Available in the AppStore,” by TheRoot.com. It is also a wonderful title for children from all backgrounds, for musical exploration and an understanding of the role of art history in our cultural experience.
The app is not animated and only very lightly interactive, with a few sound ‘sprites’, but links for all the music are included for purchase via iTunes. It begins with the story of young Miles, who is asking his dad about music, rhythm and song making. This begins a wonderful dialogue between father and son about the meaning of music. “Did you know that a song can help you tell someone how you feel about them?” asks Miles father.
See more of our 2014 “Best of the Best” recommendations: