Read, Hear, or Create a Story: Apps for Traveling With Kids

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It might be true that some parents prefer to give their kids print books -- even if they choose e-books for themselves -- but when it's holiday travel time, it might be nice to keep stories on a single device. Apart from traveling lighter, these apps and games can keep kids engaged by allowing them to create stories, too.

  • STORYLINESStoryLines (iTunes) is a bit like the game of “Telephone.” Players are given a sentence or phrase to illustrate using the touchscreen on the iPad. That illustration is given to the next person, who writes a sentence, captioning the drawing. You can determine how many “links” in the story you’d like to see, and when you’re done, Storyline replays the illustration and writing process. The tool could be an interesting way to get students thinking about the meanings of words and phrases and about illustration and interpretation, as well as a good launching point for creative writing exercises. (Free, iPad/Web)
  • SUMMER OF SECRETS:  School 26's Summer of Secrets (iTunes) is one app in a series with a “social mastery” them, as the main character Kate and her friends navigate the social pitfalls of tween and teen life.
  • ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Bringing the story to life, this app lets you tilt your iPad to make Alice grow or shrink, throw tarts at the Queen of Hearts and help the caterpillar smoke his hookah pipe.
  • TOY STORY. The movies are great, but the app is arguably more interesting. Using the same story line, there are games, movie clips, coloring pages, and sing-along songs. Kids can hear the story read aloud, or they can record their own narration, and explore at their own pace.
  • ANSEL & CLAIR'S ADVENTURES. (iTunes) in Africa is one of those rare joys that combines beautiful graphics and engaging gameplay with educational content. Ansel and Clair are aliens who must recover their lost spaceship parts, and as they travel the continent (the Serengheti, the Nile River Valley, and the Sahara Desert) they not only work on that mission but learn about the geography and history of the area as well. The app takes full advantage of iPad technology — audio, video, the touchscreen, “tilt the iPad” games, and so on.You can have separate accounts, so different users can move through the the story at their own pace and it’s suitable for a wide age range (the iTunes lists the app as 4 and up).
  • HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON. Available for iOS (iTunes), the Harold and the Purple Crayon app lets readers control that magical purple crayon. The app allows readers to simply read the book, have it read aloud to them, or interactive with a variety of animations.


- Audiobooks. Download free audiobooks from sites like Books Should Be Free, and choose from your own childhood favorites like Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna, Grimm's Fairy Tales, or Gulliver's Travels.

- Podcasts. iTunes lists a slew of storytelling podcasts. Check out Storynory. The lead storyteller is Natasha, who herself sounds like a fairytale princess with her lilting British accent narrates stories like The Old Man and the Figs and Katie's Black Friday.