Picking the Right Book App for Your Child

By Michel Kripalani

Now that school is back in session, itís a great time to take a look at book apps on mobile devices for young readers. Touchscreen tablets, like the iPad, are taking the world by storm. The abundance of titles available today forces many parents to be selective when downloading apps onto their devices. An advantage to purchasing book apps is that they typically cost less than the price of a printed book.

Here are five key points to consider when choosing a childrenís book app.

  1. Ease of use. A user-friendly interface is one of the most important elements to ensure an enjoyable experience regardless of age. Simple, intuitive navigation tools are necessary, giving kids a sense of control when they tap and swipe through the book app themselves at their own pace. Beware of apps with overly complex navigation, too many buttons, too many features, or too many text instruction screens.
  2. Level of interactivity. Children love it when things are interactive. The key for parents is to determine the right degree of interactivity. Unnecessary features can prove to be a distraction for the younger crowd. For instance, if youíre needing to boost reading skills, select book apps that have limited or no gaming features. Games, while seeming like a bonus, may actually detract from the reading experience. See if the options that are offered in the app are primarily geared toward increasing reading comprehension.
  3. Features to assist early readers. Several book apps on the market have different reading modes that let children choose to have the app read to them or to read it themselves. Features such as picture/word association, word highlighting, and the ability to touch an individual word and hear it pronounced all are great options that help beginning readers. A child who is struggling can immediately listen to a word they donít recognize, adding to their vocabulary and overall understanding of the story.
  4. Universal apps. For iOS users, look for apps that you purchase once and then are able to load on all your Apple devices—iPad, iPhone, and iPodTouch at no additional charge. Too many apps try to charge you twice—once to purchase the iPhone version and then again for the iPad version.
  5. Donít forget the classics. Care should be taken when selecting book apps that are original stories. Many of these new titles are inferior in quality simply because they have never been properly edited for their narrative storytelling, grammar, or appropriateness for kids. On the other hand, well-known books that have been adapted with care into book apps have a time-tested quality and have content that has helped children learn to read for decades.
The increasing availability of digital books is a great way to foster a lifelong love of reading. Find the right book apps for your child, and youíll capture their imagination, boost their reading skills, and create a magical experience that your youngster will not soon forget.

Michel Kripalani is president of Oceanhouse Media, Inc., creators of more than 240 apps, including the award-winning Dr. Seuss, Berenstain Bears, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Hay House app series.