Christmas Classics for Today’s “Digital Native” Kids

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Grich app by Oceanhouse Media

Grich app by Oceanhouse Media

Does it feel like there’s something fundamentally different about Christmas this year, with our younger generation interested digital screens as much as three-dimensional toys? How do you share holiday traditions with a digital native child?

One way is to find the fusion spot between holiday classics and cutting edge technologies. Oceanhouse Media puts digital enhancements on holiday stories loved by generations of readers. Their titles are available as digital apps for the iPad and tablets that access Google Play.


The next generation of classic holiday ebooks and apps for kids will be on display at the Digital Book Awards Gala at Digital Book World 2014, hosted by LeVar Burton. See the finalists here and get your tickets today!


A few of their holiday classics include:

  • Merry Christmas Mom and Dad by Mercer Mayer follows bumbling Little Critter as he tries to be helpful but finds the tape is too sticky, the lights are too tangled… Keeping up with holiday traditions isn’t always so easy. Mercer Mayer books look at childhood milestones from a child’s perspective.
  • Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. This tale celebrates individuality as well as the spirit of the holiday. The Oceanhouse Media app lets kids scroll through the story, based on the song, that was made into a 1964 TV special. Kids can click to hear audio clips from the original production.
  • How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. “Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot… But the Grinch, who lived just North of Whoville, did NOT!” I can think of no other story with so much energy and spunk. As the Grinch evolves from stingy and selfish to generous and loving—so do we.
  • The Berenstain Bears Trim The Tree by Jan and Mike Berenstain. The original paper version of this book is a lift-the-flap book. In this digital version, kids can touch the screen to interact with the “image” of a flap. Great example of a skeuomorph where the digital emulates the physical.
Classic characters in the form of a digital app.

Classic characters in the form of a digital app.

Because these stories are classics, over the years, we’ve each made them our own. Don’t we all, in our own ways, identify with Rudolph’s feelings of not fitting in, the Abominable snowman’s grumbly anger, the dentist elf’s search for self expression? The stories are universal, but our interpretations of them are deeply personal.

A feature in Oceanhouse Media apps allows readers to expand on this “personalization” by attaching a voice recording in the story. (This is a different take on digital storybook voice recording that I recently profiled: See “Personalized Book Reader Follows Kids As They Turn The Pages.”)

There’s something special in the value we attach to perennial classics—and something special about the intimacy of digital voice recordings. One grandmother, Lisa Jahred, dictated a Dr. Seuss app for her granddaughter, Kayla. “While I recorded it,” she said, “I just focused on how happy she would be while listening to it.” Jahred emailed her recording to Kaila who lives in Asia.

A lift-the-flap book is now a click-the-flap app.

A lift-the-flap book is now a click-the-flap app.

When Kaila opened her own version of the app on the other side of the International Date Line, she heard her grandmother’s voice. “Kaila enjoyed hearing me read to her,” Jahred said, “Especially since I said her name and told her how much I love her.”

Traditionalists may think digital apps may exploit classic stories. Wasn’t Rudolph a song before it was an animated TV show? Perhaps some people back then pushed back on turning a tune into a broadcast—until the broadcast became a classic.

Holiday traditions transcend media. Our ways of sharing stories have changed, but the closeness of sharing stories with each other endures. Happy holidays, all!


The next generation of classic holiday ebooks and apps for kids will be on display at the Digital Book Awards Gala at Digital Book World 2014, hosted by LeVar Burton. See the finalists here and get your tickets today!


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Expert Publishing Blog
Beth Bacon

About Beth Bacon

Beth Bacon has an MFA in Writing For Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She helps organizations large and small define their brands and has a special expertise in helping authors market their books. Beth has won the The Candlewick Award for Picture Book Writing, the Marion Dane Bauer Award for Middle Grade Writing, and is a PSAMA PULSE Award Finalist for marketing.

3 thoughts on “Christmas Classics for Today’s “Digital Native” Kids

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