Posted by kari.petroschmidt
I am and always have been a huge fan of children’s books. I’ve always loved looking at the shelves of these colourful, interesting books in stores and libraries and flipping through the beautiful illustrations and the wonderfully simple and funny stories. The idea of digitalising these books has never appealed to me at all. It feels like something really special is lost in this process. There is nothing like a parent and child flicking through the pages of their favourite book together and the wear and tear that goes along with that. The act of a parent reading a story to a child is also so important and cannot be replaced through digitalising a voiceover onto a digital book. However, lately I have been looking deeper into digital books and discovered that there is a lot more to them than I originally thought. It is not just a matter of making a static PDF. It is really about creating an extension of the book: becoming interactive and enhancing the child’s reading experience.
Through the small amount of research I have done, I have come across three main benefits of the digital children’s book:
1. Cheaper, wider distribution
Printing and distributing/ transporting books is very expensive. Particularly for good quality printing and paper, as well as the fact that there is often a minimum number of books you must have printed in one job. E-books, however, eliminate these costs through being uploaded by the author and then being able to immediately reach a worldwide audience.
2. Interactive and Enhanced experience
Ebooks allow the author to create a more interactive and enhanced experience than traditional books. Through the use of sound, movement/animation, colour, and giving the child control over certain elements of the story, they are able to help the child better understand the messages in the story, the emotions the author is trying to portray, and help the child become completely immersed. The story can also be made into a more educational experience through the use of certain activities the child can take part in throughout the book.
Here is an example of how one author has used this digital medium to enhance their already successful book:
3. Different Perspectives
I recently saw a TED talk by artist, Raghava KK. He has created an ipad app for a childen’s book about things children do with their parents. The thing that makes this app so interesting is that by shaking the ipad, the reader can view the story from another perspective (I,e shaking the ipad makes the parents in the story change from heterosexual to homosexual). This could add huge value in helping authors to portray complex issues to children, and also to allow children to understand certain ideas through the eyes of others.
See Raghava’s talk here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64fDIZiV-SM
Homosexual parents in Raghava KK’s story, ‘Pop-It’. When shaken parents change to heterosexual or lesbian couple.
So, while I still maintain that the real, physical book is something that can never be replaced, I do now have a new appreciation for digitalising certain books: not to replace real books, but to amplify the reading and learning experience for children and their families.