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Best Holiday e-Books for Kids with iPad

Looking for an inexpensive gift for that special kids in a home with an iPad? You really can’t do better than an interactive kid’s ebook or two (or three or four — maybe a series of them!). Over the past year or so, the market for these new and exciting ebooks has blown wide open. A quick check of the iTunes store shows hundreds of such books, and last April it was reported that a full 81 percent of top selling book apps on the iPad store were for kids. Well, read on to find the best e-books for kids we recommended this holiday season.

Oceanhouse Media’s Little Critter

Oceanhouse Media has just acquired The Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer. I remember reading them to my now grown children when they were two or three; they were some of their all-time favorites. These are books for very young children who can identify with Little Critter, a character with a big heart who tries as hard as he can to get things right, but often fails. They were written to help children deal with issues of growing up through humorous storytelling. Each of these books contain a simple mini-game where children need to find recurring creatures. They are fairly short and sell for $1.99 each. Currently, these three books are available:

Christmas Tale for iPad

Let’s hear Christmas Tale for iPad for a rare e-book freebie. It’s your basic toddler-oriented tale of Santa, the North Pole, and presents, with nicely illustrated pages and the obligatory interactive goodies hidden therein. The app also includes a few games and even a wish-list builder. It’s free until December 15.

´╗┐´╗┐Violet’s The Night Before Christmas

Violet’s The Night Before Christmas Violet (aka Phantom Girl) has already starred in two e-books; this one puts her in the classic Christmas poem by Clement Moore, with original illustrations and lots of interactive elements on each page. It’s too bad the bonus materials (including coloring pages and an interactive sketchpad) are on the seller’s Web page and not in the app, but don’t let that stop you from grabbing this nifty modern take on the beloved poem. (It’s currently iPad-only, but an iPhone/iPod version is imminent.) Price: $2.99.

A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol ($8.99), with illustrations by Charles Fischer, is an iPad-only book that, although advertised as a pop-up book, has nothing to pop-up. This is for older children, and it has no option for narration. What it does have is a Victorian look and feel with most pages surrounded by a wreath. The pages look like parchment, and there is a lot of action built in. Words drop off the page, appropriate phrases are spoken and some pictures morph. When you touch the door knocker, you hear it knock, and then the picture turns into the face of Marley’s ghost. Some pages use the accelerometer. When Scrooge is playing with his money, turning the iPad moves the coins in the direction that the iPad was turned.

Stray Sheep: Poe’s Christmas

Stray Sheep: Poe’s Christmas Join beloved Japanese cartoon character Poe, who walks in his sleep, as he wakes in an unfamiliar town, walks the snowy streets, and helps the mysterious “Mr. Red” bring presents to children. The story features interactive elements, of course, and the app itself comes two games: “Spot the Difference” and “Sliding Puzzle.” I like to see that kind of added value for my $6.99. For now, Poe’s Christmas is strictly an iPad title, but iPhone and iPod Touch owners can check out the free lite version.