If your children are like Reina, they churn through storybooks. Whether a paper bound edition or a digital one on the iPad, Reina goes through phases where she reads through everything one week and fixates on one or two stories the next. Here are some reads she has recently been flipping through on screen.
PicPocket Books continues to add to its long list of dependable titles with the Tractor Mac series written and illustrated by Billy Steers. This wonderfully drawn set of stories captures the spirit of farm life as it recounts the exploits of the tractor named Mac and the animals on Farmer Bill’s Stony Meadow Farm. With lessons on fitting in, working hard, patience, winning, and losing, there is much to be gained by reading and exploring these stories with a child.There is added authenticity in Billy Steers’ tales as he is a farmer himself and his voice delights as he narrates Tractor Mac Arrives at the Farm, Tractor Mac You’re a Winner, and Tractor Mac Builds a Barn.These books are rated 4-8, but I enjoyed them too; it’s true, I’m a little bit country.
You would be hard pressed to find a farm without a few of this next storybook’s main characters and sometimes you can sometimes find a farm with nothing else. The Strange & Wonderful World of Ants, written and developed by Amos Latteier and illustrated by Melinda Matson, takes the reader on an educational journey about these little insects. This educational storybook app imparts encyclopedic knowledge without being boring and has three reading levels so it can grow with the child or suit the needs of older and younger siblings. Amos is a father with a long fascination with ants and it shows in this unique offering which will challenge any parent’s knowledge of ants too. It even has a glossary, questions, and a list of resources at the end.
From informative to just plain fun, nothing will transition story time better than I really have to go!, written by Fiona Rempt and Noëlle Smit. Brought to the iPad and iPhone by Piccolo Picture Books, this storybook recounts the trials of Brian as he searches in vain for somewhere appropriate to pee (clearly the story does not take place in China). Though Reina found this story amusing, her little male playmates think it is hysterical. The story can be set for listening, reading, and learn to read modes as well as for English, Dutch, French, German, and Spanish, making it ideal for children growing up in multilingual households (at least if they include any of those five languages). This is our first title from Piccolo, but I suspect they will have many a great title to add to our bookshelf.
What Does my Teddy Bear do all Night, by Bruno Hächler and illustrated by Birte Müller, follows the life of a mischievous Teddy Bear as it avoids going to sleep. This gently narrated story by a young reader has a soothing pace ideal for nighttime storytelling. Ironically though, the pictures are loaded with hidden objects for the child to interact with, so the encouragement to sleep is negated by the excitement of searching and interacting with the pages. There is a clever page for stacking blocks, a memory game in the bathtub tiles, and a pair of mice to discover on nearly every page. The developer, Auryn, also has a similarly delightful title, What Does My Teddy Bear Do All Day.
Finally, Reina’s current favorite storybook is Nighty Night from Shape Minds & Moving Images. It is easy to see how this become the number one selling book app in Germany (yes it is available in English). Created and illustrated by Heidi Wittlinger, the story is captivating, yet surprisingly simple. In a nutshell, the reader interacts with seven different farm animals and puts them all to bed by turning out the lights around the farmhouse. There is gentle music, some amusing animations, and beautiful graphics. The English version is narrated by Alistair Finlay – someone who should narrate many more storybooks for children as he sounds incredible and is oh so calming; just the thing for bedtime. This storybook app differs from the rest as it contains no text to read or follow along too, but the overall effect is quite good; much like an illustrated book with no words, some books can stand on their imagery alone and the imagination of the parent and child to bring the ideas to life. Of course, you can always just opt for the smooth crooning of Alistair.
All the storybooks are available at the USA iTunes App Store or just click the links above to visit the website. Prices range from $1.99 – 4.99.