This mom is a writer, so obviously it makes my heart soar when I see my children reading a good, old-fashioned book (you know, one with pages) or writing their own. But since we live in a time when there are more often tablets in their hands than a pencil, I’m always thrilled to find so many wonderful apps that help them to create, dream, imagine, and write, instead of just staring at a screen. Here 5 of our favorites for you iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users.
This is a wonderful company that offers a simple (but not simplistic) way for kids to create instead of just consume. It starts with a really wonderful story that stands quite nicely on its own and then the app offer ways to make it your child’s own, by changing names, locations, characters, and text.
Their brand-new storybook, Pickle: The Little Bird Who Doesn’t Tweet, uses a digital watercolor technique that’s innovative and lovely. It’s a sweet story of a silent bird who finds his voice in other, more unusual ways. With its simple choices, this and the other StoryPanda books skew slightly towards younger children, but even my middle elementary children enjoyed it. $2.99 on iTunes.
This iOS app is exactly what it sounds like–a picturebook-creating app that is super simple and infinitely satisfying. Type your text on a “page” (no spellcheck, leaving those adorable kid-typos and mistakes) and choose from a library of cute pictures to illustrate. Then save your masterpiece in your personal library or share with other folks who have the same app. It’s free and comes with a bunch of free illustrations, but if you want to get fancy, there are themed picture libraries (ninjas, anyone?) for $.99 each. One slightly annoying drawback is that you also have to pay $.99 to access your own photos, but the end result is cute enough to warrant spending that buck.
If you don’t love Mo Willems, you’re a stone cold mama; but we’re pretty confident that you’ll love his fantastic interactive ebook. With three levels of age-appropriate fun, one of the features allows kids to create their own Pigeon stories Mad-Libs style, by filling in the blanks using their own audio voices. They will crack themselves up every time with the playback.($5.99 for iOS devices on iTunes; full experience is best on iPads.)
There are not many apps that cover as much creative ground as Scribble Press. Kids can write full books, using more than 500 tools (!) to make their own illustrations, or upload their own photographs or original artwork. Then they can can write a completely original story or use one of the funny templates provided If your little author is having writer’s block or doesn’t have the patience, she can just create a single page drawing and save the genius for another day. ($3.99 on iTunes)
Storykit is about as basic as you can get, but the chance to use your own photos, take a photo, illustrate, record your voice and save your creation are all there and it can be rather addictive. (Not that I spent an hour writing a book about my dog or anything). There are also a few classic children’s books that you can read or rewrite, so if you’re in the mood to make Goldilocks eat succotash, go for it. Oh, and it’s free. We like “creativity” and “free” in the same sentence.