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Disney debuts storybook apps for Lion King, Tangled

These terrific interactive books for kids join a growing list of other terrific interactive books for kids. (Find half a dozen more below.)

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

How I envy today's parents of young kids. Not too long ago, my family trips always included bulging, back-breaking backpacks stuffed with children's books.

Now, you can pack a 1.3-pound iPad (or an even lighter iPhone or iPod Touch) with enough books to go from here to there and back again.

And not just static reproductions of kids' classics, but animated, interactive titles both new and original. Case in point: Disney Digital Books just introduced The Lion King: Timon's Tale and Tangled: Storybook Deluxe for iOS. They're priced at $4.99 and $6.99, respectively.

The Lion King retells the story of the movie with Timon as narrator. Most pages incorporate an animated clip from the movie, but as a backdrop to the accompanying text of story, not an awkward interstitial between pages.

The interactive elements include simple, kid-friendly actions like drawing a chalk mark here or swiping a bird there. There's even a point when the reader is asked to roar like Mufasa, and that roar is immediately played back as a component of the scene. Nice.

Tangled feels like a more traditional storybook, with fewer animated scenes and a more booklike presentation. However, it's packed with interactive games--puzzles, coloring pages, and even a pop-the-floating-lanterns mini-game. Plus, you can record your own voice on some or all of the pages, then let the app use your voice for the narration.

Your little reader will also enjoy the occasional bit of song, sound effect, or dialogue from the movie. It's hard to imagine a toddler or pretween who wouldn't get a major kick out of this app.

Of course, these Disney titles are just the tip of the storybook-app iceberg. Other recent titles worth checking out are:

The Year of the Dragon: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac

The Gift

The Smurfs Classic Series

Goodnight Safari

Slide of Bread Goes to the Beach

Sock n Boots

While you're at it, check out some of last year's noteworthy children's storybook apps. There's no shortage of great reading material for the little iDevice users in your family--and most of the apps cost less than their non-interactive print counterparts.