Today’s my friend’s daughter’s first birthday. Such a special birthday, I was a bit stuck on what to buy. So soon after Christmas, she’s already bound to have had a heap of things, just as my own dear MF has her birthday so close to Christmas. In the end, I decided on some of the books that have endured for us, reading together. They don’t take up much room and you get more bang for your book (ahem), I think.
So, I bought Who’s in the Forest? by Phillis Gerhsator and Jill McDonald, a lovely American book that I bought in Seattle but which is also stocked around the corner in the fabulous Kirkdale Books. I also bought Sometimes by Emma Dodds.
Both books I’ve blogged about previously. I can’t wait to hand them over.
Monkey-face wasn’t feeling especially bookish yesterday and wanted to play with my iPad. (She doesn’t play with it too often, but whenever she sees it, she wants to play with Gina the Giraffe.) So instead I tried to beguile her with some children’s books I have on there.
I’ve got the following books as apps: Spot Goes to School by Eric Hill; Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss and Emma by Piret Raud. I’ve also got Neville by Norton Juster within my Kindle app that’s a proper e-book. Perhaps it’s still the novelty of these things, combined with the age of my daughter, but when I am in the market for playing with her on my iPad, I prefer the interactivity of an app (such as the excellent Cat in the Hat.) And – it would appear – so does she. We were reading Emma by Piret Raid (or rather the app was reading to her) and she was touching icons on the tablet and fully expecting interactivity. Personally, so did I. Spot Goes to School and Cat in the Hat are brilliant examples of this where a pre-schooler can touch the page and what you have touched is described and the word show up on the page so that you not only get to hear what it’s called, but see what the word looks like. They are genuinely impressive and add to the reading experience by helping with contextualising the word on a page. Of course, they can’t replace being read with and to, but they definitely add to the experience. Monkeyface also has a Leapfrog Reading Pal (although we don’t use it a lot) and this tool adds to that, too. In fact she’s reading it and talking to me right now a I write this blog. She’s not under the stairs with a candle, a stick and her reader. We’re still using it interactively (“it’s Winnie the Pooh Mummy,” “How many balloons are there?”) Like a regular book in fact. Which it is. Online, offline, whatever.
I was a bit disappointed with the Emma book app, which merely reads to you and allows you to turn the virtual pages. (It has a cool “stickers” page, but that didn’t really float my boat. Although I suspect the MF will like it.) The app just doesn’t add anything to the reading experience. There is a lot of e versus paper debate around lately, which frankly I don’t get. I love e-books, but I love real books too. If I didn’t, I would be interested in reading in any format, surely? My life has changed seismically and I’ve been weighed down, literally, physically, emotionally. Short of knitting a book-pouch to hang around my neck and carry around my chosen book, I’m not really in love with the idea of carrying around my reading materials on top of kid-stuff, pram, laptop etc. In fact the advent of e-books has given me back the ability to read. I’ve always got a book with me. The thing I most hated about going away was choosing which books to take. If I took more than two, my luggage would hate me for it (you may be gleaning that I hate carrying things.) But if I only took two, I’d spend the remainder of the holiday, having finished my books 5 days in, looking for more English language books not written by Jeffrey Archer. Now, of course, I have my substantial library with me, in the same way I have become accustomed to carrying my music collection with me.
I’m not suggesting I jettison a real book. I still buy them. I still read them. Just not as much. When I am reading with MF, we still read “real” books with just a little variety from “virtual” books, which serve for the most part as useful distractions when we are out and about. Until the medium catches up, the number of stunning pre-school reading apps outweigh those that are just a bit uninspired.