iPad Best of the Best – 50 Essential Children’s Book Apps (Part 3: Elementary School)

| August 9, 2012 | 4 Comments

Children’s book apps have been around now for over two years and we have seen a lot of wonderful titles at Digital-Storytime.com over this time. What follows is the third of a four-part series, listing the best 50 iPad books for kids, broken down by age. You can see our first list (for toddlers) here: http://digitalmediadiet.com/?p=1645. Our second list (for preschoolers) is here: http://digitalmediadiet.com/?p=1683

This list is of apps that are appropriate for kids aged six to nine, although many are also quite enjoyable for children a bit younger and older than this range. We’ve selected the very best titles we’ve found for elementary school aged kids in 2012. We have not included any of the titles that made our list in 2011, so please also check out: iPad Best of the Best – 25 Essential Children’s Book Apps.

1. Magnus the Magnetic Dog

Screen Shot of Magnus the Magnetic Dog

Magnetism, Thunderstorms and Friendship

A beautifully illustrated and charming story from Julian Damy, created withDemibooks Composer. This app is billed as the first title in a series and called, “A New Friend”. In this touching story, we meet Magnus the dog and learn about his fear of storms. His bravery inexplicably sets in motion a series of events that lead him to be struck by lightning. This lovable terrier isn’t hurt, however, but his life is definitely about to change in a big way! Not only does he become ‘magnetic’ and attract unwanted metal objects of every kind, but he also manages to attract something more rare – a true friend. Read more …

2. Gone Wishing – Interactive Storybook

Screen Shot of Gone Wishing

An enchanting tale where wishes come true … the old fashioned way.

This is an exceptional new book app featuring an original story about a company, called Best Wishes, that lies below our world, taking the discarded wishing-well coins, birthday candles (and other ‘wishing’ objects like wishbones) to make the dreams attached to each object come true. These pleas are answered in an alternate universe where mythical characters (like fairies & genies) use potions and incantations to work magic – filling wishes for toys, ponies and even cotton candy. Read more …

3. Jack & the Beanstalk by Mindshapes – FREE*

Screen Shot of Jack and the Beanstalk by MindShapes

A classic with modern twists, presented in a most modern format …

“I’m going on a fantastic adventure,” says Jack as this story starts. Full of polished animation and fun interactivity that moves the story along, this tale brings a fairy tale classic to digital in a way that is close to perfection. This title is fun, engaging and nicely enhanced for educational use. It features the kind of animation and cartoon-like illustrations that kids love, along with a nice retelling of the classic story about a boy who trades the family cow for three ‘magic beans’. Read more …

4. Roxie’s Doors

Screen Shot of Roxie's Doors

A lift-the-flap book like no other!

Based on Doors, a popular lift-the-flap print book, Roxie’s Doors makes the digital transition so beautifully, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t originally designed for the iPad. The talented author/illustrator Roxie Munro brought the print book to children in 2004. There are over “50 flaps to lift & explore”, bringing new discoveries on every page. The illustrations are delightful and so detailed that you notice something new with every re-reading. As a digital title, the book is lightly enhanced with animation, but the interactivity is the real star of this show! Read more …

5. Bartleby’s Book of Buttons Vol. 2: The Button at the Bottom of the Sea

Screen Shot of Bartleby's Book of Buttons Vol. 2: The Button at the Bottom of the Sea

A new adventure with Bartleby!

With light animation and ingenious interactivity, Bartleby Vol. 2 is a book-game hybrid that children (and many adults) will find deeply entertaining. The reader needs to find the proper combination of actions on each page to allow the story to continue. There are buttons, switches, levers and pulleys on nearly every page that challenge the reader with new and different ‘games’ to play to keep the story moving. Once the challenge is met, the page turn ‘button’ goes from red to green, allowing the reader to continue the story. Vol. 2 also has nice narration and great sound effects, right down to the sound of tapping on submarine glass. Read more …

6. Cinderella – Nosy Crow

Screen Shot for Cinderella - Nosy Crow animated picture book

A Cinderella tale for the modern era …

The much awaited second book from Nosy Crow is here! Cinderella captivates readers of all ages and brings even more interactivity to the classic tale of a girl, her fairy godmother and a mysterious glass slipper. You can help Cinderella tidy the house, dress the mean step-sisters for the ball, and even pick the pumpkin to be turned into a carriage. Like their previous app, Nosy Crow has not forgotten a single detail in this delightful title, featuring adorable child actors for the voices of all the characters. The pages are so touchable, in fact, that a child can play with this book for nearly an hour and still not find every interactive element. Read more …

7. Brave Rooney

Screen Shot of Brave Rooney

What happens when a normal boy goes to school with superheros?

Brave Rooney is an ordinary boy in an extraordinary situation. He goes to school in Magesticville, a place where everyone is a super-hero. But Rooney lives on the border with Normalville and is decidely not super at anything. The school even has to hire a school nurse for the first time, just for Rooney. No one had ever gotten sick before he attended. But despite his struggles to fit in, Rooney turns out to have one thing the other ‘super’ kids do not, making him a hero of sorts for a unique kind of bravery. Read more …

8. Jabberwocky 3D

Screen Shot of Jabberwocky 3D

Watch a 19th Century poem come alive …

In 1872, Lewis Carroll wrote Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (a sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). Part of this novel was Jabberwockya poem considered by many to be the finest English language ‘nonsense’ poem ever written. Nonsense verse is “light, often rhythmical, (and) usually for children … depicting peculiar characters in amusing and fantastical situations”. As a digital presentation, this book app takes the medium to a new level, tempting young, modern readers to explore this unusual 19th century verse. Read more …

9. Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book

Screen Shot of Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book

A perfect digital bedtime story for kids over 6!

Fifty years ago this month, Dr. Seuss published this popular bedtime story, now available in a beautiful digital presentation from Oceanhouse Media. Starting with a very small bug (named Van Vleck) to the Zizzer-Zoof Seed salesmen, children will be enthralled by the detailed and imaginative illustrations in this book. Screen after colorful screen shows sleepers of every shape and size, adding up a “Who’s-Asleep-Score” that needs just one more (the reader). Read more …

10. A Jazzy Day – Music Education Book for Kids

Screen Shot for A Jazzy Day - Music Education Book for Kids

Learn about musical instruments in this jazzy story!

Young music lovers (and their parents) are in for a treat! This animated, interactive and enriching musical tale about one hip cat ‘dad’ taking his cool-cat kittens to see the big band play. All of the musicians are animated animal characters, beautifully illustrated and instructive as they demonstrate each of their instruments. Learn about the different sections of the band, from rhythm to horns and even the role of the conductor. This tale is simple but well-crafted, describing the sounds and images that make up complex jazz melodies. Read more …

11. Lion King – Timon’s Tale

Screen Shot of The Lion King: Timon's Tale

A Disney adventure with Timon tells Simba’s tale …

Timon, the Meerkat from the 1994 The Lion King film, tells this tale, following the plot of the movie closely. Interactivity includes actions required to move the story along, often tapping or wiping the screen clear to reveal the next scene. This is all done in a very engaging way that made my child eager to read the next page (and made this title one that has been requested constantly since we downloaded it). Animations are timed perfectly and bring the magic of the movie to life in this digital book. Nice hints for interactive features, a page guide and simple settings for silent reading round out this well-made title. Read more …

12. StoryBox

Screen Shot of Storybox

The ultimate digital children’s magazine!

Are you looking for the digital equivalent of a children’s magazine – the kind with activities, stories, games and more? Well, look no farther! Storybox is a new children’s digital magazine based on the print publication of the same name. This is a wonderful selection of activities & stories to occupy a child. The app contains a full storybook with narration and animation, two cute comics (one a wordless “Polo” story), games and two short fact books about science and animals. Read more …

13. The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library – There’s No Place Like Space!

Screen Shot of Cat in the Hat Learning Library

These Learning Library Titles Cover Many Topics!

Titles about the earth’s poles, dinosaurs and the solar system are available in The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library series. Perfect for elementary school kids … In this non-fiction title, published first in print in 1999 and revised sans Plutoin 2006, gives readers the chance to explore our solar system with a lovable astronaut (one with a familiar red-and-white striped hat, that’s also a cat). Along with light animation, great background music and sound effects, this book offering is truly an out-of-this-world kind of app! Read more …

14. Petunia Pepper’s Picture Day

Screen Shot for Petunia Pepper HD

Picture Day is full of surprises for Petunia …

etunia is a loveable underdog right from the start of this great digital book based on the print title published in 2010. This little girl has had some seriously bad luck on picture day in the past, from puffy hair, missing teeth and even pink eye! So this year she prepares carefully, but you know what they say about the best laid plans? Things for Petunia definitely go awry but a surprise ending makes for a satisfying read for elementary age children. Read more …


A great FREE* app for empowering elementary school aged girls (and boys) …

The Adventure of the 7Wonderlicious girls

Screen Shot of The Adventure of the 7Wonderlicious Girls

Great conversation starters about gender equality!

This wonderful little book of stories is a great way to start up conversations with your child about all kinds of interesting topics.  Each of the 28 ‘short stories’ is complemented by a fun illustration of girls doing their best, helping others, being brave, learning and feeling good about themselves.

It’s an inspirational little booklet, really, with enough material to engage a child (or even better yet, a group of children) in many conversations about what they are capable of and how to feel confident. Read more …

*These apps were free when this post was published and had a history of being free for many months, however, only the developer of an app can control pricing – please check iTunes prior to downloading for the most recent price information.

Of course, we recommend that screen time for children be limited to two hours per day or less. We also encourage adult caregivers to read books (and book apps) with their child(ren) as a shared experience. What are your favorite apps to explore with children age six to nine?

Category: All About Apps, Top 10 Lists

About the Author ()

Carisa Kluver is the the editor of Digital-Storytime.com, an iPad children's book review site. She has a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and an MSW from the University of Washington. Before starting this project, she was a school counselor, health educator and researcher in child & maternal health.