The original Winnie The Pooh books have been released today in digital format for download as an app for iPhone or iPad.
Classic Pooh, released by Egmont, is available for free. Other stories can be downloaded for £1.99. You can either read them yourselves or have them read to you by actor Rufus Jones.
The iPad app makes the stories fully interactive, using the original drawings by E. H. Shepherd. Characters can be moved around the Hundred Acre Wood and can either be accessed in colour or in black and white.
The stories have been abridged for the app. Egmont, the publishers argue that this is in keeping with modern children’s short attention spans.
In an educational or a home setting it may be possible to use these digitised stories as a springboard to introducing children to the longer, original stories and books.
Although there has been criticism of Egmont’s decision to abridge the stories, it is certainly true from my experience in a primary school, that it is very difficult to get a modern child to willingly read classic stories, partly because the language we use today is so different, but partly because of the length of the more classic books, and how long it takes for the book to develop to a point where their interest is caught. It is often the case that if you can ‘sell’ a child on a ‘good bit’ you can then get them to go back and read a text in its entirety, whereas if you insist they read from the beginning in a linear fashion, they will not necessarily engage with the text at all, and be put off reading completely.