In grandma’s voice: the joys of e-books

E-books and children’s book-based apps for mobile devices are no doubt popular these days and have been reaching many millions of children worldwide. While reading the reprint of a recent article on Pratham Books‘ website about the release of the iPad in India, I discovered that the following Pratham and Tulika books (since our current focus is India) are available as e-book apps:

By Pratham Books – free download:

Annual Haircut Day (English) – A cumulative tale about a man with very long hair who can’t seem to find anyone to cut it.

Chand Ka Tohfa – An attempt to creatively use technology to combine regional language exposure and entertainment.

By Tulika –

Ekki Dokki (English/Hindi)- A story based on an endearing Marathi folktale about two sisters—one who has only one strand of hair on her head, and one who has two—and what happens to them when they meet an old woman who lives alone in the middle of the forest.

The Runnaway Peppercorn (Tamil/English or Hindi/English) – Amminikutty Amma picks out the last peppercorn from her spice box to make some tasty onion chutney. But little Kurumolagu (the peppercorn) has no intention of being ground and eaten just yet. With a desperate Amminikutty Amma hot on his heels, he hops, jumps, skids, brakes, revs and races his way away.

In addition to making possible to switch between two languages on any page, these apps also allow voice-over recording, so that children can listen to the story, for instance, in grandma’s voice. If I ever needed to be convinced of the positive side of e-book apps, I’m now completely sold on the idea! I can’t wait to record my mom’s voice reading some books in Portuguese to my daughter! I think that adding grandma’s voice to our bedtime routine will help bridge the great distance between the US and Brazil.

Some of the new apps coming out these days include interactive elements and moving illustrations, resulting in something that’s more animated than an e-book and more interactive than a cartoon. And why not pull all stops to bring children and reading together? There seems to be room and reason (and rhyme too!) for all approaches. Many publishers and digital media developers have fully embraced the opportunity to reach out to more readers.

Speaking of new technologies, Marjorie got a taste of a very interesting one while we were in Bologna this year…

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