The long version of the story began with my son’s favorite bedtime story when he was 6 months old. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. The story is very simple – it about a boy and a zoo and these mysterious boxes/crates/baskets that he keeps receiving. Each one is a flap that let’s the child discover for himself what’s hiding in the box. Each time we would read the book, my son would grab each flap and open it with such zeal and surprise, it was as if it were the first time he had ever seen the book. I, of course, would join in the fun and thrown in a ‘roar” when he opened the flap with the lion. Or a ‘woof’ when he opened the box with the puppy. Reading/acting out this book filled both of us with such joy and it was easily the highlight of our story time. We also loved reading Bear on a Bike, Goodnight Moon, the Hungry Caterpillar and various other classics, but nothing seemed to capture his attention and his imagination like ‘Dear Zoo.’
Around the same time that we were wearing out the flaps on poor Dear Zoo, I had also gotten my first iPhone. As overwhelmed as I was being a first time parent, I was even more overwhelmed by the excitement I felt when I discovered the world of apps that came with this new ‘toy.’ I was amazed by its gorgeous interface and quickly saw the potential for great kids apps with beautiful content. I searched and searched and to my surprise, I could barely find any apps of quality on par with Dear Zoo or any of our favorite books. How could this be possible I wondered?