It's all about Me

Book publishers were at the forefront of app development when the iPad debuted in 2010. Start-ups and corporate giants alike created numerous interactive books that augmented the reading experience with gaming mechanics and cinema-quality animation. 

Some of the most successful have been picture book apps aimed at preschoolers. The quality of many apps rivals that of their physical counterparts, but the reading experience is sometimes lost. You need only to watch a toddler interact with picture book apps to see that it’s the tapping and swiping - and the interactive nature of these devices - that keeps them engaged rather than the story. 

New forms of storytelling will emerge from the app space, but when translating a physical book into a digital one, publishers need to keep in mind that the physical book is a format that already works as a storytelling tool. To be effective, an app needs to add something of real value to this existing storytelling method – and not just bells and whistles.  

Me Books is a picture book reader. It’s all about the reading experience. Preschoolers love picture books, and all have their favourite story they want read over and over again.  After multiple nights of reading the same book, many parents will make up their own stories to match the illustrations. Kids will play along, repeating their favourite parts and remarking on the little butterfly that appears on every illustration but isn’t mentioned in the text. 

This kind of creative play with picture books is not just great fun. It’s critical for child development. Beyond the story contained in a book lie countless narrative possibilities waiting to be explored. With Me Books we wanted to create something that inspired this kind of creative thought. We wanted to capture rather than replace this essential experience. 

The first Me Books app is a collection of 16 Classic Ladybird books from the 1960s. The price of the app includes one book, The Zoo, with additional books available via in-app purchase for £1.99 each. Every book comes with existing audio that readers can activate by touch. This includes sound effects as well as character voices and narration from the likes of Adam Buxton and Josie Lawrence. 

When you tap the button at the top right of the screen, aspects of the page are highlighted in pink. These are hotspots, areas readers touch to activate the preloaded audio. Now that you know where the hotspots are, you can then delete them and record your own, anywhere you’d like. Mum and Dad can take turns recording alternate lines. Kids can record their own versions – and add lion roars and seal barks. You can even record individual words so that early readers can tap on unfamiliar vocabulary to hear what they sound like! 

Our aim for Me Books is powerful simplicity, an app that’s dedicated to supporting and enriching the shared experience of reading a picture book together. New titles will be added to the Ladybird Classic app, and new Me Books collections will launch later this year.

More about Me Books, here.



Hello Philip. Yes, we would

Hello Philip. Yes, we would be open to that in the future!

Great idea

Philip Jones's picture

I like this a lot. You've created a container for digital books so you don't need to develop each one separately as an app, or iBook. Would you allow non-Penguin properties to be featured in the app in the future?

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