Friday, February 17, 2012

Touchscreens and Story Time

My grandma's lap. A squeaky rocker. A stack of Little Golden books. Precious hours spent turning pages, snuggling, giggling. Those are my earliest memories of reading.

Fast forward a few decades. (Okay, maybe four. And a half. Oh, please don't make me confess my age!) Now my husband and I are the grandparents providing laps for story time. Like my grandma did with me, we snuggle with our grandkids, giggle, and make memories galore. We choose from stacks of treasured children's books, but like many other areas of our lives, a new element has joined the scene: technology.

Thanks to touchscreens, my grandchildren can interact with stories in a whole new way. Take the iPad version of the children's classic Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, for example. Trilogy Studios designed this app with three modes to choose from. Want to read it like a traditional book? Choose the Read Alone mode. Prefer an audio version? Choose Read to Me.

Our grandson enjoying the Harold and the Purple Crayon iPad app

But if you want to experience the latest in children's book technology, select Touch Tale mode. It allows readers to help the character Harold draw the story’s pictures as the tale progresses. Don't want to drag out messy art supplies? No problem. A fingertip against the screen will do.

Will such interaction help children become better readers? I have no idea. Will it encourage them to love books in adulthood? Only time will tell. But whether kids become life-long readers as a result of apps like this or not, I know two things:

1. Traditional books will always be part of story time in our home.

2. The interactive feature of the iPad app keeps my grandkids engaged for extended periods of time, which brings more snuggles, more giggles, and more time for making memories. I can't complain about that.

Have you included technology in story time with your children or grandchildren? Will interactive book apps make traditional books more or less appealing to kids? Sound off below, my friends. I'd love to know what you think!

And don't forget, my Wee Are Readers Photo Parade is coming next week. You still have time to send in pics for your chance to win a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner's choice). See contest details here.


  1. Hi Diana,
    Traditional books will always be in my home. Love story time whenever I can get the grands. It's bonding time. My two older grands recently received a kindle fire from their parents. They are enjoying them.
    I will be using my kindle also to read with the grands.
    Which do you prefer in tech: The IPad, other tablet, Kindle or the Nook?
    Bless you and yours.

    1. Wendy, you are so right. Story time is bonding time. I'd love to know how your older grandkids like their Kindle Fire. I have a Kindle 3G, which I especially enjoy when I travel, and my husband has an iPad, which in my opinion is amazing for product consumption but not so amazing for creating content, like writing books. I'll hang on to my laptop for that. I'm an advocate for traditional books for children, but after seeing my grandchildren enthralled by the Harold and the Purple Crayon interactive app, I think technology has a place in story time--as long as it doesn't replace good ol' paper books and snuggle time. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I'm just glad this wasn't out for my grandkids, some wonderful memories there. I still have my kids books for the last 58 yrs. Hoping to get some snuggle time with grand-great kids someday.
    I hate to see them not learn to enjoy real books but it's a new world & they have to keep up.
    Blessing Diana

    1. Wilma, I bet you have some treasures in that book collection--and memories galore. How awesome that you will be able to share the same books with great-grandchildren that you shared with your own children. I agree that children should learn to enjoy traditional books. That's why interactive apps like the one I mention in this post are regarded as a bonus in our home, not a replacement. We treat such technology kind of like the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae--a nice add-on, but not the main attraction. Blessings to you, too, my friend!