Common Sense Media, the organization that
tests and rates every type of media your child might encounter, has
published their latest "Best Book Apps for Kids." The apps are
rated by age group, starting with toddlers and moving up to young
CSM's standard ratings include ease of use; amounts of violence,
sex or objectionable language; the amount of consumerism in the
app; whether or not there is drinking, drugs or smoking; and
privacy controls and issues.
So what are the best interactive book apps for your kids? An
abbreviated list follows. For a more detailed review, go to CommonSenseMedia.org.
1) Night Night HD. An interactive "going to
sleep" app that allows your toddler to play with farm animals.
There's very little reading, but lots of touching. And when your
child turns off the light switch, the lights stay out. It's
2) Peek-a-Zoo by Duck Duck Moose. An app game
that asks children to look at different groups of cartoon animal
characters and distinguish which ones are exhibiting a specific
trait or behavior ("Who is crying?" "Who is surprised?" "Who is
3) Another Monster at the End of This Book.
It's a sequel to the Sesame Street classic, The Monster at the End
of This Book, and Common Sense Media reviewers like it a lot. In
this book, Grover begs readers NOT to turn the page so they can
avoid the monster at the end - who turns out to be Elmo.
4) The Cat in the Hat. CSM raters think this is
a perfect adaptation, and is very faithful to the original picture
book. "This story is such a delight to read with its great use of
language, funny graphics, and the Cat's hilarious over-the-top
5) Little Bella's: I Close My Eyes. CSM says
this is perfect for pre-readers, though your toddler might be a bit
bored. The book is made up of 12 animated shorts about a girl who
pretends she can fly, climb huge trees and jump like a frog.
6) Popout! The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The CSM
reviewer loved the popout elements, with their detailed use of
sound and movement. The popouts alone with enthrall littler kids,
while there's plenty to read for younger learners. They can even
tap on a word if they get stuck.
7) Speech with Milo: Interactive Storybook.
Developed by a speech therapist, this app gives kids the option of
reading the story that's given or writing one or two or three of
their own. It's great for teaching kids how stories are put
8) Bartleby's Book of Buttons Vol. 1:
The Far Away Island. CSM says this is an incredibly
imaginative and fun interactive storybook about a man who collects
buttons. The catch? "Any time he finds himself in need, he tries
pressing some of those buttons to see how they will affect his
situation." When kids press the buttons, it affects where the story
9) Don't Let The Pigeon Run This App! This is
an interactive spin-off of Mo Willems' Pigeon book series. CSM says
kids can make their own stories - either by picking from
multiple-choice options or making up their own story. Your child's
voice will be recorded and become part of the story they make
10) The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris
Lessmore. The CSM reviewer loves this book, calling it
"brilliant" and "mind-blowing. It's one of those apps that shows
just how much creativity and added entertainment value can be put
into an interactive book app." The story is about a man who is
swept away by a tornado (which might disturb younger kids) and then
becomes a sort of librarian in a world of living books.
11) The Magic School Bus: Oceans. This "highly
interactive storybook" brings to life the very popular children's
series and, like it's paper cousin, is chock full of educational
information sprinkling amidst a fantastical tale of adventure and a
teacher who is just a little off. Every page has interactive
elements that help kids learn about the ocean.
12) Bobo Explores Light. We science geeks at
Chicago Parent like this one, which is, according to CSM, "an
interactive science textbook." Kids can learn about reflection,
refraction, lasers, colors and much more. The reading level is
second grade, but the information might contain things parents
missed when they were in school.
13) The Three Little Pigs and the
Secrets of a Popup Book. This book is a great, interactive
telling of the children's classic, and accurately reflects real
world physics. But what the CSM reviewers really like is the x-ray
mode, which allows children to see how paper pop-up books are
14) Weird But True. This app from the National
Geographic book has 300 fun facts, about which it allows kids to
rate and animate, and even email to friends. But, according to the
CSM reviewer, "This app does not contain sources for the facts or
explanations of why or how they're true, which not only could help
kids learn more about the facts, but also helps them learn to
evaluate seemingly factual statements in our digital age."
15) Shadow Ranch HD. This is a Nancy Drew book
that allows the reader to choose which clues Nancy will chase. The
book also has puzzles, word games and mini-mysteries that are
unlocked by the direction the reader takes, so that the story
seemingly never ends.
16) Ultimate Dinopedia: The Most
Complete Dinosaur Reference Ever. Your dinosaur lover will
be ecstatic about this book, with over 300 dinos, and in-depth
discussion of 75 more popular ones (like T-Rex). Kids can learn
about the dino family tree and take interactive quizes. However,
CSM wants that it is violent. Dinosaurs didn't always get along,
and their negotiation skills were not that advanced.
17) Be Confident in Who You Are: A
Middle School Confidential Graphic Novel. This is about a
group of kids who help bolster one another's self-esteem. The
bullies are not always seen; the group reacts just as much to the
signals about height and weight and athleticism that they get from
popular culture as they do to the mean kids at school. Ultimately,
it's a book about sticking together and being confident.
18) 3D Bookshelf: Classic Literature
Collection. This compilation contains 49 classic books,
including "A Christmas Carol," "Tom Sawyer," "Jane Eyre," and "A
Tale of Two Cities," among others. It's a really nice piece for any
kid who loves to read - and a few adults, too.
19) Solar System for iPad. Zoom around the
moons of Jupiter in this interactive look at our solar system. Kids
can learn about the sun, planets, moons, etc. as well as gravity
patterns and what makes things orbit. Kids can also see planets up
close with some cool video.
20) Dracula: The Official Family Stoker
Edition. This is a great compilation of three Dracula
stories. Bram Stoker's original is presented in slightly abridged
form. Along with that, there is a full length feature of the silent
movie Nosferatu, and Orson Welles' famous radio play of Dracula. Be
warned, though, this is a violent and bloody story, and the three
different media in which it is presented don't pull punches.
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