The Bedtime Story App – Our Top 25 Recommendations (Part 2)

| May 16, 2012 | 1 Comment
Bedtime Story Image

Digital Bedtime Stories


This is a list of individual book apps, mostly from small publishers, representing our “best of the best” for bedtime reading in 2012. Some of these are lightly interactive, but done in a way that doesn’t lend itself to endless tapping (or over-stimulation). We did not include any of the apps that made our list last year, so please also check out: Top 10 Bedtime Books for iPad (2011)

The first post in this two-part series had two “top five” lists, one for our favorite developers of great bedtime book apps and one of five interactive books with bedtime themes that we didn’t want to overlook. But the real heart of this top 25 is here … our list of the very best books for bedtime reading, featuring books that are original, well made and top-notch for what matters most in storytelling – the story itself.

Top 15 Best Bedtime Book Apps

1. Little Robot Lost His Square [RobotSquare]

Little Robot Lost His Square

A book so adorable you will fall in love with its simplicity ...

Little Robot Lost His Square is a really well-crafted story, featuring a child robot who desperately wants to find his square (so he can stand on it and help his mom make cookies). The simple illustrations are lightly animated and so expressive that the reader can’t help but root for the little robot on his quest. The story has deeper meaning, too, demonstrating the value of ‘persistence’ as the little robot searches until he finds the square … just in time to help his mother. The book has uncomplicated line-drawn illustrations with subtle animations. My little boy instantly identified with the little robot and was anxious for him to resolve this all too common problem – misplacing things we love. The book is also lightly animated in a way that nears digital perfection. Watching the little robot squint as he thinks hard about where he last played with his square is adorable and the cute movement of the stairs as he rushes up and down is as delightful as it is simple. Read more …

2. Get There 

Get There Book App

Can you help Bobo reach the moon?

Bobo is a young boy peering into the night sky at the moon. He loves her and wants to find a way up there to tell her so. With light animation and creative interactivity, this storybook brings a delightful story to life in your child’s hands. It also features great narration and relaxing background music that makes this a bedtime treat for little ones. Each page has great plot-related interactivity, like dragging Bobo’s arms upward (see them stretch), shaking the iPad to tilt the moon, or moving Bobo up a rope to climb. There are some slightly animated elements to go with the interactions, but nothing too stimulating or distracting to the storyline. Read more …


3. The Very Cranky Bear 

Very Cranky Bear Book App

A very cranky bear needs just one thing to get back to sleep ...

“In the Jingle Jangle Jungle on a cold and rainy day, four little friends found a perfect place to play,” begins this delightful animated tale. Based on Nick Bland’s 2008 print title about a zebra, moose, lion and sheep who just want to find a nice, dry place to play cards on a rainy day. Each animal tries to placate the angry bear in hopes of sharing his cave. But they assume the bear would want what they want (a beautiful mane like the lion, great antlers like the moose or stripes like the zebra). In the end, it is the humble sheep who has the most brilliant idea and generous sacrifice to make, on behalf of the bear’s true comfort. Read more …

4. Big Little Brother 

Big Little Brother Book App for iPad

Sometimes a little brother is more than expected ...

Published simultaneously in print this fall by the Minnesota Historical Society, this is a remarkable title that has all the charm of a traditional print picture book with just the right enhancement to make a stellar digital storybook. A little boy tells the story in the first person, explaining that he wanted a little brother, but hadn’t expected him to grow to be as big (or even bigger) than himself so quickly. But when his ‘big little brother’ scares off a bully at the daycare, this big brother feels much more tolerant of his little brother’s shenanigans. Big Little Brother is one of those book apps that stands out for a combination of endearing illustrations, well-crafted storytelling and excellent enhancement in digital form. Read more …

5. My House by Marianne Dubuc

My House by Marianne Dubuc Book App

Meander along with a child's imagination to the stars and back again.

This new release from Winged Chariot brings Marianne Dubuc’s delightful print title published in 2010 to the iPad. It’s not so much a story as a journey, told in either English or French. One’s whole world as a child centers around the home, and in this title the reader is taken on an imaginative trip from the hill where a little house stands all the way into deep space and back again. Told with simple elegance and perfectly timed narration, this title exemplifies how a story can be lightly enhanced with just the slightest amount of interactivity and still create an immersive digital reading experience. Beautiful, hand-drawn colored-pencil etchings pulse slightly and can be moved on each page as the slow but satisfying story unfolds. Read more …

6. Daddy Balloon

Daddy Balloon

What do you do when your normal-seeming dad starts to float away?

“Naomi had a useful dad, Normal-sized, and not at all bad,” begins this delightful storybook app about a little girl and her father. One day Naomi’s daddy begins to get fat, but not in any ordinary way … something quite different was happening. Her dad was becoming a balloon! Featuring beautiful animation and interactivity that is whimsical and plot-related. This is a solidly made app overall, with an upbeat, jazzy piano tune that plays in the background. Ample settings allow you to turn this music off, or to adjust the sound effects. Even if there were no enhancements, this tale would be a treat. Read more …

7. Brave Rooney

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. Featuring cute cartoon drawings and a storyline kids will love, this book app hits just the right balance between story and enhancements. Read more …

8. Curly Hair, Straight Hair 

Curly Hair, Straight Hair Book App

A little girl and her hair go through all the seasons of the day ...

“Messy hair, bedhead hair. Grumpy in the morning hair,” begins this cute, although quite short storybook app. Rhyming verse continues to tell the tale of the little girl’s day as she goes through each routine (and so does her hair). From brushing to riding on the bus all the way to bathing and getting ready for bed (and everything in between). The book is nicely narrated although the audio has a slight echo. There are also slight animated touches in every scene, but nothing too distracting to the storyline. The book is not interactive, although the text does highlight as read and comes with a comprehensive vocabulary list of over 50 words present in the story in both English and Spanish. Having both translations in the same app makes this a great title for both language learners and foreign language study. Read more …

9. Jib Jab Jr. Books (free)

JibJab Jr. Books

A personalized book series like no other ...

JibJab is a digital entertainment company famous for commercials and a line of personalizable e-cards. Their new app, JibJab Jr. Books, is an iPad app that is free with one full book called, “The Biggest Pizza Ever”. This app doesn’t have any interactivity or even sound in their app currently but despite its simplicity this is the most enjoyable personalized book series I’ve seen so far for the iPad. The app has a simple and intuitive interface that will have you uploading a picture of your child in minutes to create a fun little book that even inserts your child’s name into the story. In the free book included, the child is shown creating a giant pizza pie. What could be better than seeing yourself star in a book? Read More …

10. Puss in Boots – The Great Adventure

Puss in Boots - The Great Adventure Book App

A twist on the Puss in Boots story brings merriment to a whole kingdom!

From Blue Quoll, creators of Mr. Wolf and the Ginger Cupcakescomes another whimsically re-imagined folk tale, this time featuring the story ofPuss in Boots. The tale follows some of the familiar classic, but the overall narrative is entirely unique. The ogre can ‘transform into all animals’ and ‘has a thousand chests of gold’, but in this retelling, he has one very unique soft spot, a tiny kitten he loves and loses. This little cat grows up to become ‘Puss in Boots’, the pet of one rather musical son of a local miller. As a digital book, this one is delightful, with nice narration, music and truly beautiful illustrations. Read more …

11. Sleepy Mole’s Moving Day 

Sleepy Mole's Moving Day Book App

Sleepy mole is digging for a new home ... will he find one before he falls asleep?

This is a remarkable little app that lets the reader drive the direction of the story. It stars a little mole, ready for sleep with his teddy bear and striped pajamas. But his nice day’s sleep is interrupted by two construction workers digging a hole; now ‘sleepy mole’ has to move on and find a new home. The charming little rodent burrows throughout the story until he finds a new place to sleep. In digital, there is nothing about the format that requires linear storytelling, so this innovative book allows the reader to choose the direction that the little mole will dig – either up, down, left or right. The effect is very fun and easy to feel as lost as the mole while choosing one direction after another. Read more …

12. Hanna McHats (free)

Hannah McHats

A fabulous little story book - about a fashion-obsessed girl!

Hannah Habeebee McHats is ‘crazy about hats!’ … and not just your typical hats. She loves both large and small, but also more exotic hats, like those that glow, make noise, and even taste “oh, so sweet” (think cupcake)! Filled with lightly animated elements that are triggered with a simple tap, this book app is sure to please young children and their parents. It isn’t the most highly produced app, nor one with a ton of extras to keep a child busy for hours, but for the sheer enjoyment of a good book, this is one of my top recommendations. As a digital book, this title is solidly made with simple settings to read with or without narration. Simply tap the words on each page to trigger the ‘read-aloud’ mode. Read more … They have another similar title, Treetop Ted (also free). 

13. Open Wide Snap (free)

Open Wide Snap Book App

A crocodile needs his teeth cleaned ...

This cute, short title features a crocodile who tries to convince several animals in the jungle that he will not eat them if they will only help him clean his dirty back teeth. He gets no help from several creatures who don’t trust him, but then he meets a fluffy rabbit who is willing to help. The two become friends. Open, Wide, Snap is told in simple, repetitive sentences perfect for young listeners & readers.

This title is solidly made with easy arrow page turning. It is very lightly animated with a nice educational & interactive feature that shows the name of everything pictured on each page with accompanying voice-over. The book is also nicely narrated (highlighting as read) with simple but intuitive settings. Read more … They have another similar title, Hide Run Growl (also free). 

14. Chipper’s Rainy Day (free)

Chipper's Rainy Day Book App

Chipper makes lots of fun choices for his rainy day!

With polished animation, delightful interactivity and a short but sweet adventure story, Chipper’s Rainy Day, has everything a young reader could wish for in a storybook app. Every one of the pages has animated and interactive elements featuring an adorable mouse-character named Chipper. It is a rainy day and Chipper is excited … but readers need to help him decide what to do next. As the story progresses, four opportunities are presented that let the reader ‘choose their own adventure’ by picking one of three options. This gives children a wonderful way to engage with the story. It also gives this app exceptional re-play value. Read more …

15. The Body Language of Veronica Sue

The Body Language of Veronica Sue Book App

Meet Veronica Sue. Her body talks. And yours does too.

Veronica Sue is a little frog who helps young children get in touch with their feelings and physical reactions to everyday events. Veronica is adorable and has a body that ‘talks to herself’ telling her more about how she feels. From sweating in the sun to feeling shy around new kids, this theme continues on over a dozen beautiful pages with light animation and interactivity. This book also has lovely background music that pairs nicely with the expressive illustrations, athough it is on a rather short loop. The book covers a wide variety of feelings, including being happy, angry, sad and sleepy. Physical sensations like sneezing & feeling itchy are also mentioned. This is a wonderful title to share with young children, especially when exploring emotional and physical states. Read more …

We hope you enjoyed this list!

You might also like this previous post:

Why the iPad has revolutionized bedtime reading for parents & kids … (includes suggestions for setting up a successful digital bedtime routine)

If you have addition suggestions of apps that we’ve missed, please let us know. Along with any other thoughts or comments about the digital bedtime story …

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Category: All About Apps, Top 10 Lists

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.