Something a little disconcerting happened last night at storytime. During our nightly bedtime reading ritual, to be specific.
My girls and I were enjoying a new interactive storybook–one of our very favorites. Great production values, cute story, wonderful interactive features. So wonderful, in fact, that my two girls fought over who would get to press buttons on the screen on every page. For the first time ever, I had to stop the story in the middle because of the bickering. All of us went to bed a little annoyed.
Now, I’ll be the first to say that one solution would be to force the girls to alternate pages–take turns, if you will. That often works–unless there is more than one button on a page. Fairness makes sense to all concerned parties, until someone breaks the rules and chaos can then ensue.
The trouble is that I’m starting to think buttons don’t have a place at bedtime. Don’t get me wrong–I’m still crazy about the story app we fought over. I just think the place for it is during playtime, not bedtime. I think at bedtime, there’s still nothing wrong with a calm, thoughtful story, read by either a parent or other appropriate adult. Print books are great for this, but there can be a place for apps as well. I like the options to turn off both automatic page turns and the voiceover, so that we can go through the book ourselves if we choose.
Here is a list of my very favorite bedtime story apps, listed in no particular order. If you’re looking for a calmer, gentler bedtime, you might like these as much as I do!
The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin
Developer: Oceanhouse Media
Writer: Joe Troiano
Illustrator: Susan Banta
This adorable story is made so much better by the first-rate voiceover, provided by Bobby “Boris” Pickett, the guy who co-wrote and sang on the 1962 hit novelty song “Monster Mash.” Cute art, nice message (sometimes being different is good) and appropriate music and sound effects all add up to a perfect bedtime story, especially near Halloween. A word on how powerful the app form can be: I just ordered the paperback through Scholastic because it’s only $1 this month, but just between you and me, I will miss Pickett’s voice every time I pick it up.
Bella Goes Bump in the Night
Developer: Patuto Press
Writers: Derek & Gina Roché
Illustrator: Jonathan Ashley
I just love the fanciful artwork in this story about a little girl facing the nighttime monsters in her imagination. Deliciously creepy without being outright scary, the app also features beautiful typography, word highlighting and an adventurous heroine. There is an in-app coloring book function, but it’s a separate option off the main menu and doesn’t pop up within (and therefore detract from) the story.
Maid Marian Muffins
Developer: Maid Marian Muffins LLC
Writers: Jamie & Jessica Vander Salm
Illustrator: Ana Benaroya
This story is about a lady and her dog who go off in search of the perfect blueberry muffin and finding none in the entire borough of Brooklyn, decide to make their own–and share! The girls and I especially like the funky illustrations and funny character expressions. I like the ‘big idea’ that if you can’t find something, creating it yourself can be a great solution. This app also provides parents the option to record their own voiceover, which I like.
Mr. Wolf and the Ginger Cupcakes
Developer: Blue Quoll
Writer/Illustrator: Lucia Masciullo
Mr. Wolf and the Ginger Cupcakes is a clever and charming retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood story. It includes all the elements of a perfect bedtime story app: beautiful illustrations, amusing and engaging story, and a crisp British-accented voiceover. I like the ability to adjust the volume of the lively background music (it is a bit loud at the default setting). You can choose from seven languages as well.
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There are others, but these are four of my favorite standalone bedtime story apps (designed for the iPad) without all the bells and whistles. Did I miss any? Share your favorites too in the comments.