Best book apps for kids

Books will always be special. But even a committed booklover like myself can be persuaded that there are certain book apps on the ipad that also make reading special. And, according to app maker Nosy Crow, more kids can make an app work than can tie their shoelaces. So apps are inevitably going to make their way into your children’s life. But there are so many book apps, how do you know which are the best ones to get? That’s where this blog comes in. I want to share a couple of kids’ books apps that the kids and I think are worth a look. Most important for me is that the interactivity and effects of the app don’t detract from the story. A book app should still have a story; it shouldn’t simply be a game to play. So with that in mind, here goes.

First is Nosy Crow’s Cinderella book app. Yes, I know, how many versions of Cinderella does a child need? But when, in a traditional book, do you get to choose the colour of Cinderella’s ballgown? Well, in this one, you do. I love this one because it retains most elements of the traditional story, while adding in just a dash of modernity, so that Cinderella is just a bit bolder than you woudl expect. This is just like a book; it has words, the pages turn and you can choose whether or not a voice reads the story to you. But the kids can also help Cinderella clean up the kitchen by dragging cups into the sink, they can help the stepsisters get dressed by finding their hair ribbons, they can choose the music that Cinderella dances to at the ball, they can help the fairy gdmother collect the pumpkin and the mice and, as I already mentioned, they get to choose the colour of Cinderella’s dress. The graphics are fantastic and you can’t do any of the interactive elements until the voice has finished reading the words on the page, so the story is as much a focus as the interaction. The kis can extend the story by tapping on the characters and each character will add in some extra dialogue so the kids feel aas if they are in control. The only downside of this one is that, compared to a lot of apps, it seems expensive at . But books cost that much too so I don’t think the price is such an issue. This book app has won loads of awards so I’m not the only one who thinks it’s pretty special.

The other one we really like is Alice for the ipad. Alice in Wonderland is the kind of story that lends itself really well to an app. So many crazy things happen after Alice falls down the rabbit hole and these crazy things are vivdly realised through the graphics and interactive play that form a part of this story. Alice in Wonderland is a long story. It’s still a long story in this ipad version – the developers haven’t sacrificed story for games. But the games – shrinking Alice and making her grow taller, throwing tarts at the Queen of Hearts – bring the kooky spirit of the story to life. Again, this isn’t a free app or even a $1.99 app but good books aren’t usually free either.

A couple of others that we like are Miss Spider’s Tea Party and for the really little ones, the Spot book apps are fun. I hope that’s inspired you to consider that a good book doesn’t always have to be in paper form. Give them a try, and let me know what othe great kids’ book apps you’ve found.


  1. Anthony Pyle

    Book Apps are pretty big right now, they are even being taught in our new technology course in third year.
    Have you heard of Treasure Kai? that’s a pretty cool book app, and I believe it was designed within Australia (could be wrong.)
    I’ve only tried out a couple book apps myself so far, The price puts me off slightly, as i’m not the target audience, and I can’t imagine I would get much reuse from them. But from what i’ve seen of the free ones. It’s an interesting market.

    • They are big, aren’t they? I keep receiving invitations to workshops and seminars about how to create your own book app. I just can’t see that there are too many ways in which an an interesting app could be created out of the kind of fiction that I write.But, it will be interesting to see if someone does come up with a good idea for that kind of fiction. I think it all depends on the genre – kids’ books work well, as do some non-fiction titles about topics that benefit from further interrogation and visuals.
      I haven’t heard of Treasure Kai – I’ll check it out. Good luck with the New Technology course by the way.

  2. Thanks Natasha, useful post for me! I’ve been very resistant (my 2yo doesn’t even watch TV and he loves real books so much that I haven’t used the iPad with him for reading – despite being such an iPad fan myself, and he’s loved using other game apps on it when we’ve been on flights) but hearing about some good book apps certainly helps. (and BTW I am really loving your new design!)

    • Not to be gendered in my response but Nosy Crow have also done an app of Jack and the Beanstalk and The Three Little Pigs, which I believe are also fantastic and which may suit a boy better than Cinderella. To be honest, my two year old much prefers real books to the apps; it’s really the 4 year old and the 6 year old who like the apps, which are rationed to once a week. But the Spot ones do hold his attention, and there’s also a great Peter Rabbit book app which he likes.
      Glad you like the look of the blog – I love it too! So nice of WordPress to put out some new themes for me to try!

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