There's been a fair amount of hubbub in the press recently over how much time, if any, a child should have with their parent's iPhone. Generally speaking, I'm anti-electronic devices for kids, but even I enjoy letting the Bear and Mouse handle my 1st generation iPhone occasionally. They play a variety of kid-friendly apps that I've selected, downloaded and tested. They do this in the home only, laying in bed or sitting next to dad during a televised sporting event. They never touch the thing in the car, in a restaurant or anywhere else outside the home.
Excessive use of such toys outside of the house is the main reason for my negative view of handheld devices (and in-car DVD players for that matter). I think that kids need to keep their heads up. That's a broad, slightly vague statement, I know. What I mean is this: young people need to develop observation skills. They need to learn how to participate in a conversation over a meal. These are skills I feel modern children lack, and I blame those freakin' portable games...and the parents who roll over.
So we practice responsible iPhone-ing. The Bear loves eBook apps best of all. Her current favorites are all from the application developer iStoryTime. Their book "Wiener Dog Magnet" is one of the funniest little stories I've seen/heard/read. It ever gets old - the Bear & I crack up everytime we read/hear it. In "Wiener Dog Magnet" we see what happens when a cute little monkey named Kiki Marie buys a magnet shaped like a Wiener Dog. A brilliantly funny book that works so very well as an iPhone app.
iStoryTime apps cost $1.99 each, which may seem high in a world where most apps are $.99. However, considering you'd spend $10 or so for a kid's book on CD, the $2 ends up being a fair price for a combination audio book and visual picture book. Unlike other kiddie book apps we've tried, the iStoryTime books provide for 2 distinct narrator options, an adult or a young girl. The latter makes the books extremely engaging, as her cadence and pacing of the stories is wonderful. Our fondness for the iStoryTime apps may boil down to them having a child-as-narrator. That young lady is outstanding.
iStoryTime has a handful of quality eBook apps available right now, with tons more on the way (including a story of Kirk Gibson's HR in the '88 World Series - one of my fave childhood memories that still gives me goosebumps). While none of the others we own are quite as awesome as "Wiener Dog Magnet", they're still rather enjoyable.
Here are the others we like:
"Binky the Pink Elephant" tells the story of why it's important to be yourself and not go out of your way to blend in with the crowd. Although it's a theme that has been done before, it is one that really can't be stressed enough for young people (and homogenized adults as well).
"Go Out! Go Out!" encourages kids to get outside and smell the smells, see the sights that the world has to offer. A worthwhile message told with clever rhymes and interesting illustrations.
Check out the iStoryTime site, where you can listen to all the titles I've discussed here and get a taste for the bounty of new eBook offerings coming soon.