Picturebook is an App that allows children to create their own illustrated eBooks that can be shared with friends (who also have the Picturebook App). It has a very simple interface so would be suitable for young children to use, but would also be useful for older students. The app comes with a choice of two book covers and some basic clip art, but you can add extras with in-App purchases. A school edition that includes all the extras is also available. The App is universal, which means you can use it on both iPad and iPhone/iTouch devices.
A single layout for the cover has text boxes for the title and author. Graphics can be added anywhere on the cover. It is possible to obscure the text with graphics, which is something I had to watch with my over-enthusiastic children. (Did I mention it was highly motivating, at least for my tribe?) The page layouts are also very easy to use in terms of placing the text and graphics. Text goes in the box on the left page and illustrations go on the right, although it is possible to add images over the text boxes.
[Edit 24/02/2012 – A free update has just been released. Text can now be added to the right page.]
- Very simple interface means it is easy to create a book without being confused and distracted by lots of features. There are no real design decisions to make about where the text and graphics go, which might be limiting for some but many will find it is just one less thing to distract children from the writing task.
- Definitions for different words pop up as they are tapped and held. This feature is not dependent on internet connection.
- Sharing Books – It is very easy to share books through email. Simply register your email address the first time you click the sharing button. You can then share books easily with your friends who also have the app installed. You can link several devices to the one email address.
- Spell check and editing tools (cut, copy, paste) are easily accessible by tapping and holding words.
- Clip Art – Picturebook comes with some basic pre-installed clip art and the option to add more sets through in-app purchases. There are a few free sample sets available that give you a taste of the graphics available in the larger sets. An option to use your own graphics exists, but you need to pay to unlock this feature. Still, it only costs 99 cents to unlock this feature and it is well worth the investment.
- A “toddler lock” to help prevent unauthorised in-app purchases.
What could be improved
A text-to-speech or recording option would help make books accessible to those with reading difficulties.
Tips for using Picturebook
- If using photos, it helps to have them already loaded on your iPad.
- Some children like to start their stories with illustrations and then add the text later. Let them have fun and explore the various graphics and they might come up with some great stories.
- Students who can’t write can create books that are solely picture-based. You have the option of adding in text later, perhaps as dictated by the child.
Picturebook has a lot going for it. Its ease of use and the graphics included should be enough to inspire some children to write some great illustrated stories. There are other eBook Apps available that do more, but then they cost more too. Download it and have a play and you’ll see just how easy and fun it is to use. I’d recommend you to pay the 99 cents to unlock the ability to use your own graphics.
Universal – will work on iPhone or iPad
Publisher – Maplekey Company LLC
Price – Free
Picturebook: School Edition