I have 3 kids: 3, 3 and 5. I’ve tried a couple of iPad interactive books already including a few from the Touchy Books series. They are all very nice, but for my kids at least, they cannot replace real books. It could be their age range, but I can’t see how it will work at any age range, especially if your goal is to teach them how to read.
Here are some of my major reasons why they don’t work:
1) Nothing beats a physical hard book that they can touch. The iPad is heavy and delicate at the same time. It costs too much to just leave with them, especially knowing that there is a possibility they can damage it.
2) More interactive elements make it worse. When I read the book to them, all they want to do is touch the items and not care at all about the words. Having a read button, and maybe some light background music should be enough. Anything else makes it more like a game than a book.
3) It’s harder to share an iPad with more than one child. I’ve tried reading with two kids at a time. The viewing angle seems fine, but there is something about it being only 1 page wide that reduces it’s usefulness for more than one child at a time.
4) It’s not good for bedtime. Have you tried holding an iPad at bedtime, especially with a protective case around it? It will hurt your hands within minutes. Then once you’re tired and balance it on your chest, it will feel like it’s slicing you.
5) You lose access to your own iPad. A real children’s book is about $5-$10. Your iPad is worth $500+. When you hand it to them to read you lose access to it, on top of that as #1, you give them the possibility of damaging it.
How can it be changed?
1) Children’s books on iPad should be cheaper to make it worth it. Real books should still be on your mind, but if your away from the house, on vacation, it will do well. Maybe a company can offer both real and iPad versions together? It’s basically a scan of pages.
2) Remove all useless interactivity. Take out shaking the iPad for cheesy physics effects. Or moving characters around, I don’t see how it teaches anyone to read and pay attention to words.
3) Only have a voice read button. That read button should also highlight the words being said at the time, that is something that will help a lot.
4) Put in light music that is not distracting. It will help the mood of the theme of the book. I don’t see much downside for music.