3 Free Kid-Friendly Books for iOS

My daughter recently chided me for not featuring more kid-friendly subject matter in my articles. "You have a grandson," she complained, "you might think about him every so often."

Free on iTunes

Before you start believing that I'm a horrible grandfather let me state for the record that I love grandson dearly. He's the cutest, handsomest, smartest kid ever to walk the face of the earth, and each day he amazes me more than the day before. I'd do anything for him, including writing articles he might find interesting.

The problem is, he's 2, and while he can handle an iPhone with the skill of a seasoned IT professional, and though I sincerely believe his intelligence borders on genius, he has yet to master reading. Any article I write will have to be read to him and will need lots of big pictures.

Ok, I can handle that. Everything I'm featuring in this week's article will be aimed at your wee ones. Don't have a wee one handy? Check out what I have in store anyway. You've got friends with kids, I'm sure, and you'll never know when a kid-friendly app will come in handy.

So, without further ado, let's get to the kid stuff.

Jack and the Beanstalk by Fairytale Studios [41 MB, all iOS devices, iOS 4.3 or later, Developer: Fairytale Studios LLC]

Jack and the Beanstalk

I honestly hesitated to include this story and app as a featured items for one simple reason: Jack is a thief and a murderer. The story is telling our impressionable youngsters that stealing, lying, even murder is OK if it benefits you. What's worse is that his high maintenance mother condones his evil because of the perks it brings.

Even though the story has questionable morals, the app reminds me of some of the old books I read as a child that was full of fun artwork with loads of details. Each page has bright and colorful images that your child can interact with. Tap a hat and it flies off in the wind, tilt your iPan and objects lean into the tilt.

Jack and the BeanstalkClassic pictures combined with interactive touches makes this app magical

The story text, while complete, seems a bit rushed as it is focused on the pictures and less on the tale itself. The wording also seems quaint by today's standards. However, instead of reading the text you can listen to it being read by tapping the "speak" icon that appears above the text.

Skewed principles aside, Jack and the Beanstalk works on both iPad and iPhone and would be a steal if it wasn't free already.

Classic Nursery Rhymes Lite Featuring Humpty Dumpty [7.2 MB, all iOS devices, iOS 5.0 or later, Developer: Once Upon an App]

Humpty Dumpty

Here's another well-told tale. A large anthropomorphic egg sits precariously on a wall only to become a broken shell of what it once was.

This story has always puzzled me. If an egg knew of its delicate condition why would it tempt fate by sitting on a wall? And it must have been an important egg if all of the king's men were brought in to attempt rescue and reconstitution.

And why were the horse trying to help put Humpty back to together? They have no hands! They can only make matters worse by stomping around with their hooves, breaking large shell pieces into smaller fragments. Very odd.

Humpty DumptyIt's no use, but maybe you can help restore Humpty

Anyway, this Humpty Dumpty app by Once Upon an App should keep the kiddies occupied as they listen to the familiar song and watch to story of Humpty's demise unfold. The app is interactive as well. Once the story has been told kids can try their hand at restoring the egg to its former self and hoisting it back to its position on the wall.

Avoid the Coloring book section as everything there must be purchased to enjoy.

Humpty Dumpty falls on all iOS devices and is a nice freebie, so grab it.

Iron Man: Armored Avenger [193 MB, all iOS devices, iOS 4.0 or later, Developer: DisneyPublishing Worldwide Applications]

Iron Man

If you're trying to keep older kids (between 5 and 8) occupied then you might try Iron Man, a free interactive comic that even you may find fun.

In this story, the metal clad Tony Stark takes on The Mandarin, the same villain he battles in the upcoming movie, Iron Man 3. Coincidence? I don't think so.

As I mentioned, this is an interactive comic and it's all about tapping, touching and swiping to advance the story. There are great motion and sound effects that keep the story interesting and fun to go through.

Iron ManMore interactive fun with Iron Man

The story is narrated by the ubiquitous and ageless Stan Lee.

Marvel Comics is giving away Iron Man, ad free, in hopes that you'll like it enough to buy other comics based on different Marvel characters. The ploy might work. This is a fun app and I wouldn't mind seeing others.

Ok, that's a wrap for this week.

If fairytales and Iron Man aren't enough to keep your kid occupied then grab this week's Free App of the Week, Take It Easy. It's a fun multiplayer puzzler.