Last year we told you about Me Books, a great story book app for your iDevices featuring classic story books from the days of old, lovingly scanned and recreated for the digital age, each one featuring a specially recorded narration and the ability to record your own version. Over the course of the year, Me Books has expanded, adding new books, with the original version becoming the home for vintage Ladybird books and a new Peppa Pig branded version containing just stories about the pre-schoolers’ favorite porky pal.
Now they’ve added a ‘catch-all’ version with enhanced features and a much larger library of over 100 books available as in-app purchases, including all the previous Ladybird and Peppa Pig ones, plus a selection of titles from publishers such as Penguin, Puffin, Ladybird, Bloomsbury and Andersen Press. The app itself is now free and comes with a Ladybird version of Little Red Riding Hood and when you sign up for an account you get another three books for free to start your collection off. Each one downloads directly into the app and they weigh in at around 30MB each, mostly due to the excellent audio narration files, which feature the voice talents of the likes of Sir David Jason, Tamsin Greig, Adam Buxton, Josie Lawrence and Richard E. Grant (read an interview with him about the process on the Me Books blog).
The audio is accessed, as you’d expect, by simply tapping on the words on the pages, but it’s the pictures that hide the real fun. Most of the illustrations also have audio, sometimes extra lines of dialogue provided by the original authors, but mostly funny little ad-libs by the narrators themselves. For example, in the very first picture of Red Riding Hood, she exclaims that she loves her new red cape because, “now I can pretend to be Superman!”
Funny as these bits can be, it’s the patented ‘draw and record’ technology that really makes the app stand out and keeps the kids coming back for more. Tapping the small circle in the top right of the screen shows you all the hotspots on the page and by simply drawing a new one with your finger, you can record your own narration for the story or add your own sound effects and voices. The new versions of the apps now allow you to save up to three different sets of records for each story in addition to the original. So now it’s not just a case of choosing which story the kids want at bedtime, but which version too. Should it be the one with the famous people talking, Daddy’s one or maybe that one that Nanny recorded last time you went to see her? It’s a great way to go beyond the original content and let your (and your kids’) imagination run free, and is a fantastic combination of classic storytelling and modern technology. Watch the video below to see just how easy it is to do.
The new titles in the range feature children’s classics such as The Tales of Beatrix Potter, stories by David McKee (including one of our all-time favorite stories Not Now, Bernard, and some Elmer The Elephant titles), works from authors including Chris Judge and Paul Stewart and also some educational content from The RSPB and London Zoo. The developers, Made In Me, are positioning Me Books as “a way for publishers big and small, authors and illustrators to reach a much wider audience than ever before” and see themselves as “the digital equivalent of a little independent book shop.”
Me Books is available now in the iOS App Store