Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

Exploring my first children’s app


Sometimes I like to read celebrity gossip. I admit it.

But I was pleasantly surprised during a recent perusal through People’s website when I came across an article about a children’s app called Don’t Let The Pigeon Run This App! from author Mo Willems. I’ve been curious about apps since I started investigating the debate between print children’s books vs. children’s ebooks.

As far as apps are concerned, one of the biggest problems that I can see is that no one knows how to find them. Getting publicity for them is extremely difficult, so the apps tend to float aimlessly around the app store, waiting for someone to come across them.

Author Mo Willems certainly lucked out when his app received attention from People. And I have to admit, I was super excited to check it out for myself. I downloaded the app to my iPad, and started playing around with it. This app centers around The Pigeon, the main character in Willems’ Pigeon books. It’s completely interactive, and allows the user to create their own Pigeon stories. There are three levels you can choose from to create a story: egg, chick, and big pigeon. Each level is different and your role in the story increases as you go up each level. For example, in the big pigeon level, you can record answers to questions, and your voice will be featured in the story. Pretty nifty. There’s even a place where you can learn to draw the quirky Pigeon character, which is a great idea for kids who love to draw or need to be entertained for awhile.

I think kids (and parents) are going to love this app because it requires that children use their imagination, and they can personalize their Pigeon stories to make it their own. I still remember getting a book from my parents when I was about five where I was the main character in the story. I absolutely loved it, and this app explores that same idea on a much grander scale.

The great thing about Don’t Let The Pigeon Run This App! is that it won’t replace the need for the physical Pigeon books. It’s more like a game. It’s a wonderful way for kids to get involved with the Pigeon character, and as the name of the app suggests, for them to feel like they have a hand in creating a unique story. Willems is a fan of physical books (bless him) because, according to his interview with People, “books need you to turn the pages. Books need you to open them up, and now you’re communicating because it’s something that needs you. I wanted to make sure that this app needed the kids as well.”

Right now, Willems’ app is available on the iPad, iPhone, and iTouch. So for all you parents out there who are slightly curious about the newest apps and ebooks for kids (but still prefer reading your kids bedtime stories with physical books), this app is definitely something you should consider. It will entertain your kids for hours, but won’t diminish the importance of reading physical books.

2 comments on “Exploring my first children’s app

  1. Claire Schulz
    December 3, 2011

    My favorite part: “[B]ooks need you to turn the pages. Books need you to open them up, and now you’re communicating because it’s something that needs you. I wanted to make sure that this app needed the kids as well.”

    As we venture farther into the digital frontier, we’ve been wondering where the line will be drawn between books, movies, music, television, and finding that the line gets more wavering and indistinct the more ‘enhanced’ we get with these ebooks and apps.

    This is a convincing take on that problem, and I thank you for bringing it to our attention! It definitely helps in my personal quest to qualify just what it is about the reader/media relation that makes it different than the more passive pastimes.

  2. Leah Thompson
    December 4, 2011

    I love the pigeon books. (Sometimes I force my roommates to listen to me read them out loud….) I also think this book is an example of something that translates really well into an app– simple artwork, a fairly standard storyline and narration structure, etc.

    In fact, that makes me wonder if app-appropriateness is starting to shape any children’s publishers’ lists. If not now, I suspect that may begin soon.

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on December 3, 2011 by in Opinion, Technology and tagged , .

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