Wednesday, 23 January 2013


Peekaboo: Ladybird Baby Touch 

for iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch
£1.99 Penguin Books

You might be familiar with Ladybird’s Baby Touch range of books - lovely sturdy cardboard affairs with bold, block colour illustrations, very simple texts and touchy feel-y bits. The ones in our house have been very well loved, particularly the spines which are, evidently, quite delicious.

Equally delicious, and capable of withstanding a beating from a determined baby, is the Peekaboo app. It’s a true book-turned-digital and it’s been done very well. Four themed ‘stories’ are included: Farm, Sea, Animals and Vehicles. You can pick one at a time, touching the screen at various prompts to move the animation along, or play all four in sequence as a movie.

However you play, you’ll follow a short, linear story structure (‘Who’s there? Peekaboo, cow! MOO!’ etc.), with no nasty distractions or demands to buy another app - very baby friendly. The sound effects are cute, the tinkly music is gently paced and the very simple animation is smooth, eye catching and fun. Like its cardboard counterpart, it’s hard to argue with.

I do have one niggle, though, and it’s a moral one: like many others, this app’s been deliberately designed for babies aged 6 months plus. Should babies really be spending time interacting with screens? Digital is part of all our lives, and it’ll be a much larger part of our children’s lives as they grow than it ever was ours. I guess it’s down to each of us to make decisions about how much of it we want to use, and how soon we want to introduce it to our children.

We’ve had this particular app for a couple of years now, and it’s been used a lot because we all like it, my one year old included. But in truth, it does nothing that I can’t do by reading the paper versions with my baby on my knee. She prefers that, every time - and not just because she gets to eat tasty paper. She can watch my mouth as I make the words and sounds, developing her own language skills at the same time. I guess I could moo along with the app, but with someone else narrating I’d feel like I was interrupting, like the cow in that joke. You know the one. You don’t? Oh, go on then...

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
The interrupting cow.
The interrupting cow wh-

With THANKS and snarfs to Michelle Robinson (and her side kick tuckshop)  for writing this guest post ....