Best apps featuring children's book characters

Best apps featuring children's book characters
From the Gruffalo to Harry Potter, there's an app for just about every much-loved children's book character. We've rounded up our favourites.

Best for KS2 kids

Roald Dahl’s Twit or Miss, free, Apple and Android

Mr and Mrs Twit have to be one of the best-known and most gruesome twosomes in children’s literature. In this madcap app, Mr Twit is tucking into his dinner, but his terrible table manners mean food keeps flying towards Mrs Twit, who’s fast asleep.

Your child’s mission is to stop the mouldy food hitting Mrs Twit and waking her up by flicking it back towards Mr Twit. Points are scored by zapping each morsel, with bonus points available for trick shots such as hitting Mr Twit in the eye or exploding a pie full of blackbirds. But every piece of food that hits Mrs Twit disturbs her a little bit more, and when she’s angry enough to clout Mr Twit with her stick, it’s game over!

With animation by Aardman, unlimited levels and new challenges every round, this app will appeal to kids aged six to 11 who appreciate Roald Dahl’s love of everything grotesque.

Best for fantasy fans

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, free, Apple and Android

Harry Potter fans can lose themselves in a whole world of witchcraft and wizardry with this immersive, story-based app, set in the days before Harry himself arrived at Hogwarts.

Your child can choose and personalise a character to play with before embarking on their adventure. It begins in Diagon Alley, where they need to buy their school supplies – including their wand – before proceeding to Hogwarts. There, the sorting hat will decide which house they belong to, before they start exploring the castle, taking magic lessons from Dumbledore, Flitwick, Snape and more, making new friends and rivals and collecting house points.

Hogwarts Mystery has a ‘choose your own adventure’ format, with your child’s preferences dictating the course of the game. There are also trivia questions to test your child’s Harry Potter knowledge.

The basic game is free and very much playable without the optional in-app purchases, which you can choose to disable.

Best for laughs

Horrid Henry’s Big Box of Pranks, £2.99, Apple and Android

Loved by kids but hated by parents, Horrid Henry is now the star of his own app, pranking characters from the book series, including Moody Margaret and Perfect Peter.

Playing as Horrid Henry himself, your child will tackle a fast and furious collection of mini games, which become more and more difficult as they progress, improving their reaction times and fine motor control. They earn points for completing pranks in good time, but if their prank fails, they lose a life.

With games called Bumper Burptastic, Flick the Bogey and Fatal Fart, among others, this app is full of kid-appeal: your child will love challenging themselves to become the Lord High Excellent Majesty of Pranks.

Best for problem-solving

The Famous Five Adventure Game, £2.99, Apple and Android

If you’re looking for an app that will really get your child’s brain working, the Famous Five Adventure Game is highly recommended. Playing as one Enid Blyton’s much loved characters – Julian, Dick, Anne, George or Timmy the Dog – your child’s task is to travel around locations from the books and unravel a mystery.

Your child has to interview witnesses and suspects, and collect clues, motives and alibis, to work out who committed the crime, Cluedo-style. Along the way, they’re asked to solve problems that test their vocabulary, code-breaking, non-verbal reasoning skills and more. Their findings are collated in a fact-file, and once they’ve collated enough evidence, they can accuse their suspect and find out if their suspicions were right.

Once your child has solved the mystery, the whole adventure is compiled into an illustrated virtual storybook. You’ll be notified when this happens, so you can read it together. You can also switch to a dyslexia-friendly font, and set time limits so your child isn’t glued to the screen for too long.

Best for KS1 kids

Mr Men: Mishaps and Mayhem, £2.99, Apple and Android

Bright and colourful to appeal to young children, Mr Men: Mishaps and Mayhem is a collection of 15 simple mini games featuring favourite characters, including Mr Happy, Mr Messy, Little Miss Sunshine and Little Miss Princess.

By swiping, tapping and dragging, your child has to beat the countdown clock and complete tasks such as unwrapping Mr Bump’s bandages, stirring Mr Messy’s cake mix, and solving Mr Clever’s word problems. The catch is that to promote quick thinking, the further they progress, the faster they have to be – and if they don’t finish the activity in time, they lose a life.

Your child unlocks more characters as they advance through the games, and can compare their own scores with their previous results, and challenge themselves against other players worldwide.

Best for pre-schoolers

Spot at the Farm, £2.99, Apple

This charming app is ideal for pre-school and EYFS children who are just getting to grips with using a smartphone or tablet. Using their finger, your child can take Spot on a walking, running and jumping adventure around the farm, with lots of fun activities to do on the way.

Your child will encounter a litter of piglets who want to play an oinking tune, a flock of sheep who need to be sheared and coloured in, carrot seeds to plant, water and harvest, and Spot’s dad’s tractor, which has two flat tyres and a broken engine for them to fix. Along the way, Spot’s friends peek out from up trees and behind bushes to say hello.

The game is open-ended, so there are no levels to complete or points to be won, meaning your child can explore it in their own time, and keep returning to the activities they enjoy the most.

Best for new readers

The Cat in the Hat: Read & Learn with Dr Seuss, £3.99, Apple and Android

Children love Dr Seuss’s classic rhyming stories, and The Cat in the Hat is probably his most popular. This app, developed with early literacy experts, brings the book to life with narration, animation and interactive features.

On each page, your child can tap on objects to bring up its name label, improving vocabulary. There is also a star to find on every page, which revels a learning activity to help them practise their spelling, phonics, rhyming or reading comprehension.

Your child can opt to listen to the story, read along with the narration, with words highlighted karaoke style, or read it themselves. Parent features include the ability to track how long your child has spent reading, and how many pages they’ve got through.

Best for developing cognitive skills

Gruffalo: Games, £2.99, Apple and Android

This beautifully animated app featuring Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s infamous Gruffalo manages to be educational and fun at the same time, with six mini games designed to develop your child’s reaction times, logical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Your child can challenge the Gruffalo to a game of Snap! or try to outsmart him at Three in a Row. They can help Mouse catch the nuts falling from the treetops, complete jigsaws of their favourite characters and play a game of matching pairs. There’s also a Marching Bugs game, which tests your child’s ability to recognise patterns and sequences.

With lovely illustrations, gentle music and lots of learning opportunities, this is an app that parents will love as much as kids.

Best for Foundation Stage kids

Peter Rabbit: Let’s Go!

Peter Rabbit: Let’s Go!, £2.99, Apple and Android

Fans of Beatrix Potter’s classic book, and the hugely popular TV series, will love this app, which brings together a selection of mini games that include spelling and number challenges as well as activities that are just for fun.

Playing as Peter, Benjamin or Lily, your child can go on a vegetable raid in Mr McGregor’s garden, or make music with Jeremy Fisher. There’s a matching game to play against the clock, as well as ladybird hunting and balloon popping games that will help your child improve their reaction times.

As your child plays, they collect tasty treats for Peter’s picnic basket, and fill in pages in his journal, unlocking new pages and stickers to collect and colour in as they progress.

Best for learning new facts

The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Friends: Play & Explore, £4.99, Apple and Android

Eric Carle’s unique style of illustration is instantly recognisable, and makes this colourful 3D app a real treat for the eyes.

Featuring the Very Hungry Caterpillar along with other characters such as Mr Seahorse and the Very Quiet Cricket, it aims to help children develop their counting, sorting and memory skills, learn about healthy eating and discover amazing animal facts. There’s a range of games to play: your child can guide the caterpillar through the garden to munch on tasty treats, grow seeds into beautiful flowers, and challenge themselves with spot the difference and jigsaw puzzles.

The basic version of this app is free, but it’s worth paying to unlock the full version, which gives access to a wider selection of activities, including a virtual sticker book for your child to fill in.

Best for learning a new skill

Tom Gates Brilliant Music, £1.99 per track, Apple and Android

Perfect for older children who can’t get enough of Liz Pichon’s graphic novels, Tom Gates Brilliant Music is more than just an app. It can also help them master a new skill: playing the ukulele.

The app features music from the bands that appear in the Tom Gates books, including Dude3, Dog Zombies and Plastic Cup. Your child can control the parts that make up the music, including vocals, guitar, drums and ukulele. There are karaoke-style lyrics for them to sing along, and they can slow the music down or repeat a selection on a loop to practise. There are links to YouTube tutorials that’ll teach them how to play the ukulele.

It’s not a cheap app – you can try one track for free, but then each additional track costs £1.99 – but it’s a good investment if your child wants to learn a new instrument and play along to songs like Delia is a Weirdo and School Dinner Blues.

Best for creative kids

Charlie & Lola: My Little Town, £2.99, Apple and Android

If your child loves everything arty, they’ll while away hours creating with Charlie & Lola: My Little Town.

There are six different creative activities for your child to enjoy, all of which promote learning through imagination. They can colour in animal characters and playmats using a range of virtual media from felt tip to glitter glue, construct buildings for their town using building blocks, make music out of birdsong, and more.

The creations your child makes all go into their own little town, and they can make changes as many times as they want, as well as collecting rewards for completing activities.