Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Monday 12 January 2015

Interactive storybooks

Do you own a smartphone or a tablet device – either iPad or Android? If so I hope you have started to explore the reading opportunities for both yourself and your children, and especially as an alternative means to read and explore stories with the family.

As an adult, it quite possible that you have started buying, borrowing or downloading free e-books, either on your tablet, an e-reader, on a computer or smartphone, or alternatively listening to audio recordings on your device. Are you children getting the same opportunities? Interactive e-book publishing for children’s books offers an exciting, evolving and engaging format available through app purchases and downloads. A good starting point get a feel for the younger market is iStoryTime.

As a brief introduction to this alternative way to share stories with your children and for them to develop independent reading habits and opportunities to investigate the story beyond the text, these are some of my favourites. A good place to start is with renowned Australian children’s author and illustrator Graeme BaseFor a fraction of the cost of a print copy, both Animalia and The waterhole can be purchased and will provide hours of fun, starting with Graeme telling the story and then supported with a range of puzzles and activities to explore deeper layers of the words and illustrations.

Nick Bland is another icon on Australian picture book scene. Find out about Nick’s latest publishing venture Wheelbarrow where several of his own books have been developed into apps. Along with his bear books: Cranky bearHungry bear and Itchy bear, one of my all time favourites is the The wrong book which is an absolute delight to share with a child as the story is told through the app and with the device as physical movement adds another dimension to the exploits on the screen. I think this book was immortalised for me, and an auditorium full of students, during its rendition on the big screen as the chosen text for National Simultaneous Storytime in 2013. You can view it in action on YouTube  if you are not convinced :-). Wheelbarrow are branching out in the digitisation of books, so look out for Shaun Tan’s The rules of summer as another interactive book worth investigating. And remember, that a good storybook app has so much more than the story!

Interactive story apps are an expanding market and one well worth exploring. This is just a brief introduction and I trust that it will send you off to start exploring further.

Jennie Bales

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