Children’s apps are appearing in Horn Book. More than a little curious, I got two items to see how the e-books fared in preparing toddlers in early literary skills. The two titles were by well-loved authors Mo Willems and Sandra Boynton – veterans of the printed word and formatted for the iPad. E-books and Apps are popular and in price tend to be slightly cheaper than their physical counterparts but much more expensive than many typical apps. Parents who grumble about the price are more used to purchasing games rather than board books or hardbacks. I can immediately see that there are drawbacks, despite the fanfare that children’s e-books and apps are receiving. Children’s books rendered as apps are memory hogs because of poor compression, huge sound files and the algorithms fueling the animation. Many of the newer ones have animation effects using the iPad’s internal motion sensors as part of the interface, engaging the feel of a child’s toy in addition to the printed word. They eat up so much space on the devices that you can store far fewer of the book apps than you could of a standard e-book. There is also the issue of the Don’t let the Pigeon Drive this App which requires the shaking of the tablet as part of the interaction. This obviously engenders feelings of misgiving when you see your four-year old vigorously shaking a four-hundred dollar piece of hardware. Otherwise, I think this is a good medium for reinforcing literacy, assuming that the dialogic reading is happening regardless of the materiel format. E-books can build excitement for stories and are a nice addition/enhancement book format story times.
References for E-books and Early Literacy
Bircher, K. (2012) What makes a good picture book app. Horn Books. Retrieved from http://www.hbook.com/2012/02/using-books/what-makes-a-good-picture-book-app/
Castellanos, C., Castillo S., Miano M. (2012). Electronic Devices: Are they helpful or detrimental to emergent literacy development? (LIBR 262A-10, Assignment 2).
Grandstaff A., Redfearn V., Scheidl H., Zwieg C. (2012). The dialectics of technology in early literacy. (LIBR 262A-10, Assignment 2).