Category Archives: eReader

Android Woes? Have No Fear!

I got this email recently and I thought I’d answer the question publicly since it may be useful to others:

First off, thanks for the inspiration!  I’m getting myself up to speed in incorporating digital resources into my programming, and you’ve been a great resource.

Quick question – are you aware of any buzz on whether developers will start designing for Android as well as IOS?  We purchased Samsungs rather than iPads, and I’m finding that all the “cool” apps seem only to be offered for IOS.  Major bummer.  Wish I had found you before we made the purchase.

As I wade through Google play etc., I’ll start a Pinterest board for Android apps and send you the link in case there are others in my boat.  Although maybe I’ll be too busy writing a grant so I can get some iPads as well! LOL!

Michele Timbly
Children’s Librarian
Niagara Falls Public Library

There are a number of bigger developers that produce content for iOS and Android, like OceanHouse Media, Loud Crow and Nosy Crow, plus review sites that review Android apps as well. Common Sense Media’s maintains its Best Android Apps for Kids and Digital Storytime reviews for various platforms

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can access Nook or Kindle Books through their respective apps (and you can even sync your devices!). While there may still not be a ton of native book apps for Android, your storytelling or public use collection could include a whole slew of great picture books in eBook format (check out the Caldecotts that are available digitally ). To be honest, I generally prefer using eBooks in my programs over apps, though I don’t have a mirroring mechanism for any of my Android devices. I can’t wait to see what you come up on Pinterest (When you have that set up, I’ll add to to our list!), and it would be really great to see if you find a device that works for projecting or mirroring in your programs.



Digital Storytime has Expanded!

I’ve been on the hunt for great apps that are available on the Kindle Fire or for Android, and I see that Digital Storytime now has the option of sorting by apps for Android, Kindle, iPad or Nook.  You can still sort by age, rating, length, and, my favourite, quality.  The quality setting includes the overall rating, and also individual ratings for animation, audio quality, interactivity, re-readability,   bedtime, educational, originality and games/puzzles/extras.

I’m so glad that there are so many more apps out there for Android, because while I love Dr Seuss and Sandra Boynton, there still aren’t nearly as many good quality apps and eBooks available for anything other than the iPad.  Many other review sources only review content for Apple products, and it’s nice to see that the market for non-Apple apps is getting strong enough that developers are putting effort into making their products available for a number of different platforms.

Tonight I present a wild and wacky program on the Kindle Fire at the Mountain View Library. Come join in the fun and hilarity!  We’ll cover basic settings and functions- it’s a general program intended for adults, not the usual Little eLit fare.  Party starts at 7 pm. See event info here and the flyer for the program here. We’ll also post step-by-step instructions and other resources.

eBook Review: Ocean Animals

Ocean Animals: Discover Series Picture Book for Children
Xist Publishing
$0.99 on Amazon, or free with Prime

One of my Book Babies moms recommended this eBook to us, and she only has an old school Eink Kindle.  I downloaded it onto our Kindle and had fun looking at a few of the black-and-white versions of these gorgeous photos, but you really don’t get the full effect until you see them in colour.  I switched to the Kindle Fire (the cover was on my bookshelf but needed a second to download to the new device) and had to change the settings from black screen to white screen because the text wasn’t showing up.  This eBook is obviously designed to be read with the device held portrait- if you hold it landscape the text and image are separated onto 2 pages.  So as long as you get the background colour right and hold the device right, this is a awesome eBook for 2 year olds. (things in the ocean = awesome).

eBook Review: The Real Mother Goose, illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright

The Real Mother Goose
Illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright
$.99 on B&N, iTunes and Amazon

This eBook is an instance of a classic tree book being made available for digital consumption. Wright’s illustrations are gorgeous, though the developers could have made them much bigger.  As it is they  only take up about 25% of the screen, and since there is no narration or interactivity, the illustrations have to carry the show.  Mother Goose rhymes are wonderful for soothing little people, and this collection of rhymes fits in a purse or diaper bag much better than the paper copy would.

App Review: Pop Out! The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Pop Out! The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Loud Crow Interactive
$4.99 B&N, iTunes and Amazon

This adorable app is the #1 Kirkus Top Book App of 2010 and a Parent’s Choice Gold Award winner. There are interactive elements throughout the entire book, even on the title page.  Every creature that you touch makes a noise and moves.  There are pull tabs that make things happen, such as Mr. McGregor running after Peter Rabbit, and  when you turn the page it sounds like a print book.  You can touch leaves and make them pop out across the page (hence the name Pop Out!), and touch blackberries and make them splatter.  The narrator has a beautiful voice with a British accent, and there is pleasant music playing in the background.  You can choose to read the book on your own, and touch words to hear them pronounced.   It’s available for most devices, too!


eBook Review: Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham
Oceanhouse Media
$3.99 from Amazon App Store
Read on Kindle Fire

Green Eggs and Ham!  I’m trying to like them, Sam I am!

This is the same people who did Rudolph.  So.  Some of the same stuff stands.  Kinda creepy, annoying narrator and those big red words that pop out when you click on pictures.  It’s psychedelically annoying.  I might just be a party pooper about this, but I’d rather have some of other kind of interaction.  They sell this book for $3.99 on name recognition, mostly.

The problem is, my kid LOVES this.  He asks for Sam-I-am and loves the train going through the tunnel and the accompanying choo choo sounds.  He points out the eggs, he points out the ham, and he says “I do not like them, Sam-I-am!” at dinner when I’m trying to get him to eat something green.  We have a few Dr Seuss compilations that we read from, so he recognizes the art and the cadence.

I’d rather listen to Moxy Fruvous than read this eBook, but I’m not the boss of me.  My 2 year old is.

App Review: Drawing Pad

We first encountered Drawing Pad (Amazon) at the Apple store.  We then went home and installed it on both the Kindle Fire and Galaxy Tab because it was such a hit with the little dude.

You can use digital crayons, pencil crayons, markers, stamps, coloured paper and stickers. The sticker function is by FAR the most awesome. There are stickers of fish, vehicles, insects, faces, flowers, birds and animals, all of which can be shrunk or enlarged and moved around until you “stamp” it to make it stick permanently. The drawer that holds all the tools opens and closes, and Little J can now navigate his way through the drawer to change colours or tools, as well as scrap his piece of artwork and start over again.

Drawing Pad (iTunes) is an awesome app for learning fine motor movement, playing with paint without making a mess, and making the train go choo choo down the track.  Totally worth the $1.99 and good for kids from 2 up.

eBook Review: The Elephant’s Child: How the Elephant Got His Trunk

This one’s for you, Dad!  (My dad loves Rudyard Kipling)

The Elephant’s Child: How the Elephant Got His Trunk is a free eBook from B&N.  The narrator is awesome.  He sounds like he should be narrating a PBS nature show.  About elephants.

Poor baby elephant has bad role models and absentee parents. All the animals of the savannah keep telling him to stop asking questions.

“So many questions! Take your nosy-nose somewhere else!”

The Kokoloko bird, channeling coyote or raven,  sends the little elephant off to go ask a crocodile what he eats for dinner.  CHOMP.  This is a slightly more violent tale than I would normally abide for my own little elephant, but it IS Rudyard Kipling, and he DOES hearken from the days of yore when cautionary tales were sprinkled with chomping crocodiles, child-eating witches and poisoned apples.  In the end, though, the elephant ends up with a dextrous schnozz and shares his story with the nasty creatures who wouldn’t answer his questions earlier in the story.  Such is the love of a child.

FYI: Did you know that the term pachyderm is now obsolete?  It’s true!  Wikipedia told me so.

ebook Review: I Love You, Daddy

Anyone who has been to my storytimes knows what a softie I am for books about Mama or Daddy Love.  You know, those overly sentimental books that make you feel all squishy inside about your kid and make you temporarily forget about all the concerts and bars you could be going to if you weren’t on potty duty.

This is one of those books.  I Love You, Daddy is adorable.  I may have even gotten a little weepy at the end.  Beautiful watercolours, beautiful text and positive parenting are all present.  Unfortunately, there are no interactive features, and the only option is Read by Myself.  I would be really pleased with this eBook- except for the fact that I actually paid $2.99 for it.  If you have to pay something, there SHOULD be interactive content.  Otherwise, you may as well just read one of those old fashioned books.  The ones that take up space on shelves, collect dust and have to be shipped from Asia.