Six of the best: story-telling apps for kids
Add a new dimension to story-time with these enchanting apps
Reading to your children (and, as they grow older, helping them to read themselves) is one of the great joys of being a parent. And while their bookshelves may already be heaving with many much-loved tales, story-telling apps on your mobile device can spark off a whole new train of imagination. Here are some of our favourites - a mixture of free and pay-for options.
BBC CBeebies Storytime
The subjects of all these stories will be instantly recognisable to any young children. The tales revolve around TV shows such as Swashbuckle, Something Special and Old Jack's Boat and the app has a neat library feature where you can 'borrow' and 'return' the books that you read (saving space on your device's internal memory). All the stories are interactive and feature recognition-testing questions at the end that will ask your little one about the events that took place. As your child's reading skills develop, they can choose to switch off the narration and read for themselves.
Read Me Stories: Kids' Books
This app is pitched at children who are learning to read - it aims to teach the alphabet, phonics, pronunciation and the processes that stitch all those together for reading. One caveat to all that; this is an American app and obviously uses US English - rely exclusively on this to teach your kids reading and it will be all 'you say tum-eh-toe, I say tom-ah-toe'. But the stories themselves are great for primary-aged kids, with elaborate artwork and a wide range of tales to choose from. The app is free, but donwloading additional stories comes as an in-app purchase.
Collins Big Cat: The Steam Train Story Creator
This is one of a series of excellent story apps from Collins Education. The Steam Train is based on the book by Ian Whybrow and this electronic version comes with either 'read to me' or 'read it myself' options. The pages of the book are interactive, with little animations popping up when certain parts of the illustration are touched. The Story Creator mode adds an extra level of interaction; children can record their own narration or build their own books using images, characters and key phrases from the story.
Green Eggs and Ham - Dr. Seuss
It's hard to beat the gently surreal anarchy of the Dr Seuss books, they strike the perfect balance between learning and downright silliness. All of the good doctor's best have been turned into their own e-book apps - sadly not free but worth a look if your kids are Seuss fans (and at least there's no need to worry about in-app purchases here; there are none). Again, this app offers either 'read to me' or 'read by myself' options, and the story includes a number of mini-games that work on key skills such as spelling and rhyming.
Jack and the Beanstalk
If you're only going to pay for one premium story-telling app, make it one by Nosy Crow. This UK children's publisher does do printed books but it's best known for its brilliant interactive apps, including new stories from Axel Scheffler (illustrator of The Gruffalo) and traditional tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and this one, Jack and the Beanstalk. In this app, there's a mix of reading and gaming - playing the mini-games unlocks new parts of the story. A mix of beautiful illustrations and immersive background music helps to bring the stories to life.
Grimm's Hansel and Gretel ~ 3D Interactive Pop-up Book
Pop-up books are great fun for kids but they come with one fatal flaw. In the hands of a young child, all that intricately designed card has a life expectancy best measured in nano-seconds. An electronic version - such as this app - would seem to be the perfect solution. The concept is done justice with some really excellent artwork and a suitable jaunty soundtrack, while the story itself is interspersed with lots of simple games.