Both Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal are great resources for finding helpful reviews not only of apps for kids but for all kinds of reading, like those things with paper. Their "Best Of" lists are rolling out for 2011, and we're hoping to see some of our favorite apps on there.
Here is dotMomming's rundown of our favorite picture book apps of the year:
For the youngest iPadders, Chronicle's Animal Show is adorable. With a festive, circus vibe in the visuals and audio, little swipers can learn to identify 31 animals -- tap on the sheep and hear it bah-bah-bah -- play matching games, test their memory, and work on counting skills. A definite keeper that they'll want to go back to again and again. ($1.99)
Nighty Night! HD ($1.99) from Shape Minds and Moving Images and created by Oscar-nominated animator Heidi Wittlinger. In this beautifully rendered app, young readers get to put the animals to sleep all around the farm by turning out the lights. This is a perfect example of the magic apps can conjure -- the child is the actor and gets to decide when to make the bedtime call on every page. And though I missed the merging of text with narration, my first-grader did not. Parents who want their kids reading or at least having literacy awareness might find the lack of words on the page disappointing as well. But still, the visuals and interactivity more than make up for it.
The Going to Bed Book ($3.99), which allows for a great deal of fun but keeps wee readers focused on the task at hand -- getting under those covers and calling it a day. Created by the wizards over at Loud Crow, the Boynton apps are not to be missed. Every one is a gem, offering kids the choice to have the story read to them or letting them read it themselves. Boynton books are for the youngest readers who are developing literacy skills, so the highlighting of words to flow with the narration and the subtle cues to move us along through the books go a long way in teaching kids the basic mechanics of reading. Loud Crow is a name you can trust.
Crab Hill Press, and their My Dad Drives a Roller Coaster Car ($1.99) is still one of our all-time favorite apps. Two words: rollicking hilarity! Forget about minivans, the little boy in this story has a family that drives wild ride rides from the amusement park, like a merry-go-round horse and a spinning teacup and a roller coaster car. With a beach-blanket-bingo party soundtrack, this app is a gas, and the type of story they'll return to again and again. Here's hoping Crab Hill has more great things to come in 2012.
Next up: A review of our No. 1 pick for 2011. Stay tuned. . .