That’s MY book! Innovative Ways to Personalize iPad Book Apps

| September 1, 2011 | 4 Comments

Remember being little and writing your name inside a favorite book?

Children have written their names on bookplates inside children’s picture books for generations and there is no reason the digital revolution needs to get in the way of this tradition. In fact, the new ways that a digital book can be personalized go way beyond inking your name.

Many of the new children’s book apps coming to market are exploring the possibilities of making the story uniquely suited to each new reader. This is expanding not only the reader’s experience, but also challenging our most basic assumptions about the static nature of the future ‘book’.

Here are some of the ways new book apps have begun to let us shape the experience of reading:

(click on images for to see our full review of each example)

Electronic Bookplates – Having a way to put your name in a book is a simple touch that has appeared in many book apps. The only thing I haven’t seen re-created is a way to ‘sign’ a book when giving it as a gift. I think it would really nice to have that tradition find its way onto my digital bookshelf someday in the future.


Personalized Bookplate - Q-Books


Books from Kiwa Media (QBook) allow you to

type a name under “This book belongs to:”

Find it in titles like the Milly, Molly Series and

TopThat! titles like Hiku &  Toucan, Toucan’t.



Gobberwobbly Book for iPad

Handwritten Bookplate - Gobberwobbly


This book from Ice Cream Publishing 

lets you handwrite a name in the book,

perserving a child’s digital signature.




Your Own Narration – A nice selection of books I’ve reviewed allow you to pre-record new narration for the story with your own voice. In fact, of our reviewed titles so far, over 30 have this feature. The settings vary, making it easier in some books than in others (I’d love to see these standardized by developers at some point in the future). In addition, longer titles can be time-consuming, making this feature impractical.

However, this feature can be delightful to use in many of the shorter book apps. It is especially nice for times when a child is away from a loved one. It can also be used to support language development in children by letting the child record the narration themselves as they read aloud.

Winnie the Pooh Puzzle Book

Record Your Own Narration - Disney Books


Titles like the ‘puzzle book’ series

from Disney are the ideal length 

length for recording narration.



I'm Going to Be a Pirate!

Personalized Voice Over - TwoBigDads


This title  from TwoBigDads

comes without narration but still

allows a personalized voice-over.



Photos – Some books allow you to add photos to personalize the book. This can vary from books that have a picture with the bookplate to those that shape the whole book around personal pictures of your child, family or even pets.

Personalized Electronic Photo Bookplate - F:SH

Photo Bookplate - F:SH


F:SH (Brandwidth) has a bookplate

that includes a way to add a photo,

personalizing the app even more.



Personalize Book App with Child's Photo

Star in your own iPad book - Mom, It's Me!™


The Mom, It’s Me!™ series lets you

upload a child’s picture into the app

for a personalized story on every page.



Personalizing Text & Illustrations – One of the more innovative trends I’ve seen in just a few apps is the ability to change the story itself or alter the images.

Teddy's Day

Personalize the Illustrations - Teddy's Day


In Teddy’s Day and Teddy’s Night,

(Auryna child can draw a picture

that will appear in the illustration.



Simone and the Night's Monsters

Change Text of Story - Simone & the Night's Monsters


In this title from Simiula,

you can re-name all the

characters in the story.




The ultimate personalization – appear in everyone’s copy of the app!

A contest for one of my favorite apps, Treasure Kai, is even taking personalization a step farther. Kids (with their parents help of course) can submit their hand-drawn treasure maps to enter. Three lucky winners will get drawn as cartoons and added to a page in the book.

Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island

Star in a Book as a Cartoon - Treasure Kai


To find out more about 

appearing as a cartoon in an app

visit the  Treasure Kai website.




And a few more examples that just came to my attention this week (not yet reviewed):

Hurray for Pre-K by Auryn

Personalize the text & narration - Auryn


This app allows you to not only change the text, but also to do a voice-over to match your changes. Show off your personalization to enter to win free books. For more details: visit the Auryn FB Page.



Speech with Milo Interactive Book

Personalize Text & Narration - Speech with Milo


In Speech with Milo, a speech therapist helped design a book app that gives the option to create your own story and record it.




Jib Jab Jr.

Star in your own Free Book - JibJab Jr.


This app is FREE (additional books are in-app purchases) from JibJab Media. It lets you take a picture with the iPad’s camera (or upload one from iPhoto) to star in the story.




What other ways have you seen digital books personalized? And what would you like to see in the future?

Category: 100+ Reviews ... What I've Learned So Far, All About Apps

About the Author ()

Carisa Kluver is the the editor of, 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.