Looking to help your kids improve their reading? Get lost in an interactive story? Or simply write your own? These are the storytelling apps you need...
This week is the 17th annual National Storytelling Week, an initiative designed to help celebrate and encourage one of the oldest art forms there is: aural storytelling. There’ll be readings and events happening up and down the UK in schools, museums, care homes, clubs and theatres to help bring the event alive, but if you can’t make it to a planned meetup there are still plenty of ways you and your family can get involved.
To help you do just that, we’ve been on a hero’s journey through the various mobile app stores to uncover the best yarn-spinning apps for kids and adults alike. Here are our favourite storytelling apps for 2017…
Best reading apps for kids
Read Me Stories | iOS, Android (Free)
Struggling for something to read? This app, which acts as a digital library of kids books, should solve that quandary for good. Sign up and you’ll bag a new interactive kids book every single day, with the option to store your child’s favourites or even to order physical copies. Over four million other readers can’t be wrong!
PlayTales! | iOS, Android (Free)
PlayTales! is another great resource for fun, interactive kids books. You’ll need to buy each book individually, but there’s a library of over 200, and you’ll get to sample each one for free before having to unlock it proper. Every page of every book has some kind of interactive element to it, and the titles on offer range from classics like The Ugly Duckling to newbies like Elmo.
A Story Before Bed | iOS (Free)
What sets ASBB apart from the pack is the app’s ability to let both parents and kids record themselves reading any of the 500+ books on its virtual shelves. That’s great for parents wanting to show kids how each sentence should sound, or for letting kids record themselves reading to hear where they’re improving.
Best Interactive story apps for children
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore | iOS, (£3.99)
Best experienced on an iPad, the award-winning Morris Lessmore is a gorgeous interactive experience for children of all ages that completely blurs the line between films, games and literature. As the story unfolds you’ll be tasked with exploring, playing games, tinkering on pianos and more, in an ongoing effort to uncover the next section of the engrossing plot.
The Monster at the End of this Book… Starring Grover | iOS, Android (£3.99)
Parents may recognise the title here, as the Sesame Street book of the same name has been a children’s chart topper around the world. The app version is a faithful reimagining that adds animations, interactive mini-games, phonetic highlighting for beginner readers, and an optional voiceover from Grover himself.
Dandelion | iOS (£1.49)
Dandelion is a story built from the ground up for mobile devices, which means its many interactive mini-games, activities and storytelling methods are an intrinsic part of the experience, rather than having been shoehorned in. The result is a stunning modern fable with a strong anti-bullying message – perfect for kids, teens and parents alike.
Best interactive story apps for grownups
Device 6 | iOS (2.99)
“Anna wakes up in a castle on a remote island, with little recollection of how she got there. All she remembers is an unusually unpleasant doll.” Part puzzle game, part text-adventure, part novella and part work of art, Device 6 is unique on the App Store for the way in which it presents its mysterious story, and the way in which you uncover its many secrets.
Arcadia by Iain Pears | iOS (Free)
Arcadia is a curiosity. It’s available as a traditional novel, or as this interactive app that proffers an extra 60,000 words along with the ability to choose your own way through the text. The sprawling plot revolves around ten interweaving characters, and in the app you can choose to dip in and out of each as you see fit, plotting each story strand on a tube-style map as you go along.
80 Days | iOS, Android (£4.99, £3.00)
Winner of numerous awards, 80 Days takes the idea of the classic ‘choose your own adventure’ story and brings it soaring into the 21st century. In it you’re tasked with making your way around the globe, but where you stop off, and the adventures you get embroiled in as a result, are up to you to discover.
Best writing apps for budding storytellers
Wattpad | iOS, Android (Free)
Wattpad is a writing app as well as an online publishing and distribution tool. Write your story chapters and publish each one as you go, and you may soon find yourself with a massive online following. Stuck for ideas? Read one of the millions of books written by fellow Wattpadders right in the app.
Scrivener | iOS (£19.99)
Scrivener is many professional writers’ go-to tool on desktop computers, but its recently released (and long-awaited) iOS version is arguably even better. With it you can write prose, poetry, scripts and anything else in-between on the go – with a raft of extra planning, note-taking and idea jotting features baked in to help you keep your ideas on track. There’s also online backup and syncing via Dropbox, letting you work across multiple devices.
Werdsmith | iOS (Free)
Werdsmith is a pleasingly clean, stripped-back and utilitarian writing app that does its best to get out of the way so you can get on with the art of storytelling. Its paid subscription (£4.49 per month) unlocks extra features like the ability to write screenplays, store unlimited projects, and take part in helpful writing exercises.
Could you write a bestselling novel on your phone? Check out our interview with the team at Wattpad to find out how the world of writing and publishing has gone mobile.