The Poetry App (Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation, 2012) may not be specifically geared toward kids, but I think it has a lot to offer younger users. First and foremost, the app presents over one hundred classic poems from sixteen of the world’s greatest poets — including W. H. Auden, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, William Butler Yeats, and Sylvia Plath. Additionally, each poem available to read is paired with an audio recitation performed by one of thirty critically acclaimed actors and performers.
The lineup of contributors is a veritable who’s who of British thespian elite, which includes — and let me preface this list by saying that each is known for a host of memorable roles; I’ve simply boiled them down to their most kid/teen-relevant, pop-culture characters — Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort), Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy), and Robert Hardy (Cornelius Fudge) from the Harry Potter franchise; Ian McDiarmid (The Emperor/Senator Palpatine) from the Star Wars movies; Roger Moore (James Bond); Dan Stevens (aka Matthew Crawley) and Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley) from Downton Abbey; Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) and Julian Glover (Grand Maester Pycelle) from Game of Thrones; and Jeremy Irons (aka Brom from Eragon, Macon Ravenwood from Beautiful Creatures, and Scar from The Lion King).
The main menu is straightforward and simple to navigate, featuring a cozy living room setting warmed by a crackling fire and six section icons to click through. Unfortunately, once you’re actually exploring the poems organized by poet or actor, the interface becomes over-conceptualized. Animated hot air balloons float across pictures or portraits of actors and poets, all pasted in front of the scrolling background of a starry night sky. It’s too busy to be effective. Good thing the recitations are so impressive and beautifully done. This is one of those apps with incredible content — if you can get past its appearance.
Introductions and essays by the late author Josephine Hart accompany various poems, providing context and some explication. There is also a composition tool, so users can compose their own poetry if inspiration strikes. Easter eggs are hidden throughout the app, some featuring video clips of actors reciting poems. Click around to find them all.