Fun, Rabbit, Fun!

Photo: Courtesy of Ruckus Media Group
A new, green way to read with your kids

If your young kids are like mine, they love playing with your smart phone. At three-and-a-half, my daughter is already an expert at princess dress up, phonics and various games that repeat what she says — for hours. So many, in fact, that her beautiful wooden puzzles sets, formerly cherished books and phthalate-free dollies lie bereft and motionless in the corner.

So when planning a few stocking stuffers this year, I came across an ingenious gift idea from a company called Ruckus Media Group, “A Family Entertainment Company.” Now, forget what you’re thinking: these folks aren’t purveyors of yet another CD with oh-so-jaunty versions of the same-old kids songs. These people are hip. Celebrities, even! And, their product is a super saver of paper and packaging.

They make high-definition animated story apps for kids. You simply download them for your iPhone, iTouch, iPad or Android mobile device. The apps feature colourful illustrations interspersed with easy-to-read text pages. Kids can watch the book almost as a movie and be read to; parents or reading-age kids can read the story while the young one “flips” the pages; or parents, grandparents, even the kids themselves, can record their own voice telling the story.

For just 99 cents (!), I downloaded the Velveteen Rabbit, told in a fine British accent by Meryl Streep. The current lineup also includes Tom Thumb and the Knights of the Round Table, told by John Cleese with music by Elvis Costello; Johnny Appleseed, told by Garrison Keillor; Pecos Bill, told by Robin Williams with music by Ry Cooder; and John Henry, told by Denzel Washington with music by B.B. King.

Authors and illustrators on Ruckus’s roster include bestselling and award-winning authors and illustrators including Jon Scieszka, Rosemary Wells, Andrew Clements, Patricia MacLachlan, Alan Katz, David Carter, Kevin Lewis, Mike Austin and Caitlin Friedman, among several others.

Besides being a green choice for kids entertainment, Ruckus Media co-founder and CEO Rick Richter says, “Our goal is to extend a child’s imagination through interactivity and to lead more and more kids to play and to read, regardless of the medium.” He went on to say that within the next few months, more than 26 apps will be available, and 75 more are under contract.

Well, this stocking stuffer won’t exactly be in a stocking, or under the tree. But I know it’ll be in her little hands throughout the holidays. Brings new meaning to a novel idea, doesn’t it?