Road Test: Me Books fairy tales

Fairy tales live on for little ones

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 11:11am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 11:11am

With so many charming children's tales addressing modern issues right now, traditional fairy tales - with their violent content and regressive stereotypes - might be expected to lose some of their allure.

However, American psychologist Bruno Bettelheim's influential 1976 study on the usefulness of traditional tales claimed such stories help children cope emotionally with the world.

So are we doing our children a disservice by eschewing the bedtime classics?

Me Books' e-versions of some of the Ladybird favourites of my childhood gave me the chance to experiment with my children's reading.

First I downloaded Little Red Riding Hood. The pages looked like scanned versions of the hard copy, except readers can tap the text to activate narration. Children can also tap the pictures on the accompanying page to make the characters speak a sentence or two.

The publisher has enlisted celebrities, such as Benedict Cumberbatch, as narrators, and the quality of their diction might be an attraction for Hong Kong parents. Users can also record their own voices reading the stories, although this takes a bit of figuring out.

Leaving my three-year-old alone with the e-book yielded mixed results. He was able to use it himself, up to a point. But after a while, he tended to flip pages and jab at characters who began to babble simultaneously.

So, parents need to be on hand to guide their little ones' impatient fingers.

In addition to Ladybird classics, Me Books also offers a range of well-written modern stories, such as the Peppa Pig and Elmer series.

While I was drawn to these contemporary tales, which address issues such as sharing and bedtime, Little Red Riding Hood remained my son's favourite, suggesting that Bettelheim's theories might be relevant to our 21st century little ones.

Verdict: An economical way to expose your child to traditional tales and modern favourites, with good English narration as a bonus.

Me Books Little Red Riding Hood, free. Others HK$23. Available at the App Store