- a unified notification center similar to Spotlight
- advanced editing features in mail
- wi-fi sync
- new multitasking gestures
Ebook Sales Eclipse Print Book Sales
Ebooks have been steadily increasing in popularity as both a means of entertainment and education. In fact, Amazon.com released a statement earlier in the year that ebook sales had eclipsed traditional print book sales for the first time, and the company was expecting the trend to continue. Recently, articles have been popping up regarding Kindle ebooks being available from public libraries across the country, like in these stories:
While these articles focus mostly on the Kindle platform, ebooks have been available from public libraries for several years, and in several formats, some readable on the Kindle. And for almost as long, ebook borrowing services like Lendle.me have allowed borrowers to network with other ebook readers, to trade and borrow ebooks, and even to make money lending them through Amazon’s proprietary system. No doubt, Amazon’s entree into the public library system will make ebooks even more popular, and available to a wider audience, in particular children and teens.
It’s no surprise that publishers of children’s books have started partnering with new media companies to provide ebook releases of popular classics. OceanHouse Media, for example, is the exclusive licensee of the Dr. Seuss catalog, which can read the book to your child automatically with sound, graphics, animation, and a feature highlighting words on screen when your child touches certain characters or graphics during the story.
The interactivity of these new ebooks offers much more of a learning experience than its traditional print book counterpart. GeekDad said it right when we wrote about the future of children’s ebooks in a column for WIRED, which might allow children to tap into their imaginations when reading ebooks and to have the ability to rewrite passages of books and share their new endings with friends, wholly online.
Of course, there is something to be said about having a shelf full of colorfully bound print books, and the sweet smell of a leather bound first edition. There’s also something to be said about the ability to carry that entire library in your backpack in the memory banks of a popular e-reader device.
The Best Ebooks for Children
I’ve read hundreds of children’s books since the birth of my daughter 11 months ago. Some age appropriate, and others more advanced, though I’m sure she doesn’t really understand them yet, I know she picks up on the colors on the page (screen) and the intonation of my voice, both essential to her learning.
There are one or two books that she absolutely loves and insists I read to her time after time after time. So much, that I often wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares about Paul and Judy patting bunnies, sheep that keep crashing their damn jeep, and a boy that cuts down a stupid giving tree with a shiny new craftsman chainsaw. Still, I go back to the never ending font of creativity and read them to her again, just to watch her face light up when she sees a familiar character with the turn of a page, or now-with the swipe of the Ipad screen.
Of those hundreds of books, I’ve put together a list of my top 5 childrens books available in ebook format, and readable on both your computer and mobile devices. In my opinion, these are probably the 5 best apps for kids too, but you can check them out and decide for yourself.
I’ve written about how big a fan I am of the StoryChimes app on this site before in an article titled 15 Awesome Apps for Dads. Story Chimes isn’t actually a stand alone app, it is delivered as separate ebooks for children, but I believe it could be wrapped into one app like a book reader, and separate ebooks can be downloaded. Story Chimes has hundreds of books for kids, including the classics and newer original books from previously unknown authors. Most of the books are only $0.99 each to purchase, but many of them are free including the following – just click the link and you’ll be taken to the free book at Itunes:
- Sleeping Beauty StoryChimes (FREE) – Siena Entertainment, LLC
- Three Little Pigs StoryChimes (FREE) – Siena Entertainment, LLC
- The Ugly Duckling StoryChimes (FREE) – Siena Entertainment, LLC
This book comes free with the Ibook application on the Ipad and Ipad 2. It is one of the most famous children’s books ever written, and for good reason. It teaches little kids that even if they are big and fat and ugly they can be part of society too, so long as they were actually born to become beautiful little swans.
On a serious, note, the message is one of acceptance, tolerance, and self-confidence. It teaches your kids not to judge another until they have walked in that person’s shoes. A valuable lesson which should be taught as early as possible. This book can be read to your child, or your child can read himself following along with the text on screen. She can also play memory card games with pictures of the characters from the book. In my opinion, the charm of The Ugly Duckling is in the text by Hans Christian Anderson, and not the fancy features on screen.
Other popular kids books by Hans Christian Anderson include The Snow Queen, The Little Mermaid, and Thumbelina. The Ugly Duckling is available for every ereader platform including the read along Ugly Duckling version shown here for Ipad.
This is the first truly interactive children’s ebook for the Amazon Kindle ereader platform. The book is aimed at children learning to read, and while it doesn’t have all the fancy bells and whistles of the interactive ebooks for the Ipad or android platforms, it does offer an educational setting. Rather than touching the graphics on screen and having words popup or highlight, this book asks for the reader’s help in solving problems, puzzles, and spelling words.
As the interactive functionality of the Kindle continues to improve, look for additional titles from this publisher and others. Ghostboy and the Nameless Grave is available through the Kindle store on Amazon.com.
#2) Toy Story Read-Along
Disney has really broken the mold with this ebook and application for kids, and is a sparkling example of what can be done on ereader platforms like the Ipad and Ipad2.
The book can be read to your child automatically, while the spoken words are highlighted on the screen, or your child can choose to read the book himself, at his own pace. Pressing characters and toys on screen brings up the interactive features which include a painting program, music and additional audio features, and even games that your child can play to make her feel like she’s right there experiencing the fun with the characters.
As an added bonus, the Toy Story ebook lets you or your child record his voice and use that as the narration for the book’s auto reading feature. This is a great way to let your child experience the book when you can’t be there to read it to him yourself. Currently, Disney offers Toy Story 1, Toy Story 2, and Toy Story 3 in the ereader format.
#1) The Thinks You Can Think by Dr. Seuss
Of all the Dr. Seuss books, The Thinks is my favorite, more so than Green Eggs and Ham, and even more than The Places You’ll Go, a perennial favorite high school graduation gift from parents who can’t themselves think of anything inspirational to tell their children.
The beauty of The Thinks, like many other Seuss books, are the amazing creatures and worlds he creates and brings to life on nearly every page. They don’t look like real people, animals, or places, but they capture our imagination and make enjoying a Seuss book an experience much greater than just reading words on a page.
The Thinks ebook by OceanHouse media is a sparkling example of the best ebook for kids, featuring three reading modes: and auto mode which speaks the words and turns the pages automatically; a read it to me mode which speaks the words and plays the graphics but allows you to turn the pages when ready to progress, and a standard book mode which allows allows you to see the pictures and words on screen but lets you read it yourself and at your own pace.
Pressing characters and places on screen will pop-up the word for that object, and nearly everything on the page is clickable. My daughter loves this book more than any other on the Ipad, and can play with it for hours at a time.
Ebooks for Kids Summary
If you are looking for a way to educate and entertain your kids look no further than your ereader. With several free ebooks for children and others at a very low cost compared to traditional print books, it’s easy to build a library of interactive ebooks.
Be sure to checkout our giveaway section in the coming days as we’re going to be offering codes to download free ebooks for the Ipad and Ipad 2.
Also, I’m always on the lookout for cool new books, and love sharing ideas with other parents. If there’s an ebook you really love or one you think should be on this list, please leave a comment below and I’ll check it out.