iPad apps for libraries and readers

flickrbookappswesleyfryer“I cannot live without books”–Thomas Jefferson.

Obviously, there are a plethora of book and reading apps for the iPad. How to choose and how can they fit into library use?   Whether you are circulating your iPads to students, or using them as library “reading stations,” a number of apps provide book access for students.

And then there is the consideration when using various apps about the readability–do the ones with animations really distract students from reading the text, even though they have a “coolness” factor?  Much like the print book sector, there are novelty books that kids love, and engaging novels and picture books that they love–so it’s reasonable for all the formats to coexist.  For library use, it’s mainly a matter of determining the purpose of the particular books selected, and the way the iPad is used.

If the library iPads are “stations” then certain reading apps apply themselves, but if each student has an iPad, a different approach to e-books, (like Overdrive) may be an important consideration.

Some basic “get started” ebook apps:

iBook (allows you to store pdfs too, and they have their own “bookcase,” so all sorts of documents can be stored there. If you are using your iPad as a reading station, you can even put informational materials on the PDF shelf about the library, using the iPad, etc. And if your school circulates them, you could put PDFs of the campus use guidelines in the PDF shelf of each iBook for easy reference.

Kindle –The Kindle app also allows pdfs and now the Kindle app includes page numbers, which it didn’t before. Easy to highlight books and add notes that can be synced with your computer.

Nook Similar to the Kindle app, can also use ePub files. Easy to highlight books, press on words for definitions, etc.

Nook for KidsA really nice app, and useful for library reading stations as well, because it has both a “read to yourself” and “read aloud to you” feature. Another nice feature, it doesn’t allow for children to “add” books without consulting a parent (or teacher/librarian) because of how the software works.

KoboPerhaps an overlooked app, Kobo has added a very clever social networking feature to their app, so you can share comments about a book with others. When you open a book, it asks if you want to “share it with friends.” It lets you share a book cover on Facebook, share favorite passages, track your own reading statistics in a fun format, too. It also has easy to access annotations, adjustable font, adjustable night reading (white on black) and page justification, etc.

Stanza Has a nice table of contents feature, allows white on black text, allows you to share the title with FB, Twitter and email.

ReadmeStories—   Read me Stories has sample books you can download, which are read aloud including sound effects(which can get annoying but engaging for those very young readers). A “set” of 30 books can be added for only $1.99. These aren’t classic titles, but for a reading center for preK-1 they could be engaging.

ICDL (International Children’s Digital Library) –is, like the ICDL website, is a very large international collection of children’s books in many languages, with scanned pages of the actual books. The interface isn’t quite as easy as the “swipe” screen on other books, since you have to use “arrows” to turn the page, but it’s unique in it’s search capabilities–you can search by categories like animal characters, imaginary creatures, nonfiction, fairy tales, and age range or length of book(you can even search by color of the cover!) Part of their mission is provide picture book libraries for many countries where children might not have that much access to libraries.

GoogleBooksThe Google Books app is more basic; it has some of the basic features of all the ebook readers, but a little less “pizzaz”.

Audiobooks — pulls in audio books for Librivox’s collection, but small fee for each book.

A Story before Bed–allows adult (or child) to record a personalized reading of a children’s picture book using the Facetime camera which shows the reader superimposed above the book pages.  Really sweet app.

Overdrive App— If your public or school library subscribes to the book collection offered by Overdrive, the Overdrive app allows easy check-out of the books from the library’s collection, much like you would check out a physical book.   Many public libraries now belong to consortiums offering Overdrive, and while it is somewhat cumbersome on a regular computer to download the book and then add it to your e-reader(Nook, etc.), the iPad app makes this process much easier.

Individual book titles:
There are a huge number of individual book titles that are free, and Kirkus Reviews has started providing book reviews for many of the purchased titles and is definitely the most comprehensive source for book reviews of iPad books.

The ones listed below are free ones:
Cat in the Hat Lite (free) — Nice conception of Seuss’s book, it has a read for you, or read by yourself feature, but even when reading alone, can press a word and it reads it aloud.
Green Eggs and Ham
Toy Story Read Along — reads aloud, has features like if you touch a page, it can turn it into a coloring book. It has a game built in as well. Not totally easy to navigate for younger users, but lots of interactive features for a very popular film/book.
Shakespeare (complete works for free)
TimmyTipToes (Beatrix Potter)
Dr. Seuss’s ABC Lite (do you only get part of the alphabet?)
Alice for iPad lite (one of the first interactive e-books, beautiful illustrations)

Of course these are just a few of the many many book titles available.    Also, more information about e-books of all sorts, including online e-book sites, and paid e-book databases are available on my workshop site.

Image:  Flickr: WesleyFryer

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