Hands-On Learning? Meet iBooks

Hands on Learning? Meet iBooks

While the Nexus 7 and the Nook HD are really great Android devices with a lot to offer, the iPad and iPad Mini have one ace in the hole that attracts voracious readers of all ages like bees to a flowerbed: iBooks.

Apple’s ebook format is the most interactive, smart implementation of digital literature on the market, and since we’re talking about the iCompany here, that’s not a huge surprise.

Essentially, an iBook is an ebook, but the latter term doesn’t do an iBook a lot of justice, given just how much can be worked into it. It’s like comparing a standard ethernet connection running into your PC to a Verizon Wireless connection — same end result, wildly different execution.

iBooks are able to run Javascript and HTML, a variety of formatting options, and can be used to present anything from complex information to children’s stories with the minimum of fuss in an innately easy-to-use way.

Reading is Fun-damental — on iBooks

The reason this is great for kids is because it makes reading a far more interactive experience than just turning pages. Not only can children absorb the pictures and text, they can also take advantage of any code-work that the creator of that particular iBook has included. This can range from being able to choose which area of the book to look at next to rewarding children’s curiosity by answering questions and revealing secret areas of the book or page.

HungryCaterpillar - iBooksIt’s also great for literacy, as the iBooks app comes with a Read Aloud feature that will automatically read the words on the page to the child or children and turn the pages for them at a speed the child (or adult present) can set themselves — great, but not surprising given the impressive software available for iPads.

Not only does this mean they can follow along with the words being read out loud, but it also means that they won’t require your presence to hear what a word sounds like (although, reading it along with them, if you’d prefer to do so is fine, too).

In Search of … the Classics!

At the moment, the main criticism you’ll encounter is that there’s actually a lack of classic children’s books in iBook format — titles such as “The Hungry Caterpillar” and “Mr. Men” are, to quote James Seddon’s Wired piece for Geek Dad, “frustratingly absent … I can buy egg cups with most of these characters on, yet I can’t read them on the fastest-selling new gadget of all time.”

However, while it’s a valid point that while these books are certainly the cornerstone of classic children’s literature, they’re also not the be-all and end-all of the genre. There are many more recent examples to be found in the iBooks range and, while they’re not as instantly recognizable as everyone’s favorite peckish larva, it’s worth noting that they can be just as stimulating to a young mind, especially when written in the present day.

Of course, parents are also perfectly capable of coming up with their own iBooks via iBooks Author, which is excitingly free and simply requires a Mac and iPad to make and test your iBooks on. You could find yourself becoming the creator of not only tales for your children, but tales that may become the next “Very Hungry Caterpillar.” iBooks are an exciting format for both children and adults – don’t miss out if you’ve got the technology to hand.