Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Apps, ebooks and traditional books ... can they coexist?

Little Red Riding Hood from Nosy Crow

I attended a panel discussion this week about apps, ebooks and picture books for children. Our speakers came from three different strands of the publishing industry: Oxford University Press, Nosy Crow and Me Books.

It may seem a bit strange for someone who is such a champion of traditional books to attend such a discussion. However, I found it refreshing to talk about books and their digital counterparts as part of the same conversation. I do feel that apps, ebooks and traditional books can coexist.  For me, it's about managing screen time and not allowing it to compete with traditional books.

We live in a digital age and fortunately, we all get to make our own choices about how much, if any, screen time we allow our kids. I take E on a long haul flight at least once a year to see family and friends back in America, and even if I could sustain his attention for 9 hours straight with traditional books, I would never be able to carry all the materials needed in one airline approved bag. I make use of an ipad in these situations and seek to include as many well produced, creative and hopefully educational apps as possible. After this week's talk I'll also be looking at ebooks as another option for content on the tablet.

My hesitation with apps and screen time in general is that I don't want books to suddenly pale in comparison. E's fascination with books is precious to me and it was therefore reassuring to hear industry representatives agree that traditional picture books are not in danger of being replaced, but rather the market is widening to include other platforms. The panel was quick to impress upon us that regardless of the format, the story is still the most important component and is still what drives things. Whew!

Fiete by Wolfgang Schmitz (app)

The panel came up with a number of good recommendations for companies producing apps and ebooks that they like.  I've combined their picks with serveral recommendations of my own:

And here's a savvy website and blog that I also go to for app recommendations:

And for further reading have a look at this April 2013 article from Booktrust in the UK:

Children's Books Apps: What's Next?

 Are there other children's apps and or app makers that you'd recommend?

I'll be back next week with a traditional picture book!


  1. thank for all your app recommendations. definitely handy for our upcoming trans-atlantic flight to entertain the 3 year old! x

  2. Do you know this children's book app blog: ?

    1. No, I'm not familiar with that one! It looks great at first glance. I will investigate, thanks.