Small touches, great learnings

Posted by on Dec 4, 2011 in Articles | Comments Off on Small touches, great learnings

Year after year we see an huge increase on the smartphones and tablets users base. Theses devices are establishing a presence in people lives, assuming a multi-functionality purpose on the way they’re being used. Inside families with children the relationship between them and these mobile equipments can assume an important role on children development. Nevertheless, parents have here a responsibility to moderate and establish a balance on their usage. The easy way children get acquainted with this interactive devices is amazing! For sure they will learn faster how to make a swipe on the screen than to tighten the laces of their shoes.

Educational and entertainment content for theses mobile devices have grew exponentially, but here I’d like to focus on the importance interactive books can have as a tool to encourage children reading and listening habits.

We have to go back to the end of century XIX to begin talking about the first interactive books, the pop-up book. Based on paper engineering they were built for children storytelling and have been considered by Time magazine on of the most important toys ever. Nowadays with the multi-purpose ability of the mobile devices, the book reading experience had a giant leap, but, curiously we observe the same easy way a child interacts with both a pop-up book or an interactive book running on a tablet, and that is amazing because we see children learning fast when the means used are simple, natural and intuitive.

But, what are we referring to, when talking about interactive books? In practice these books are usually a mobile application or enhanced eBook available throughout the online app stores. Besides the story text and the illustrations there are other components, it can include also sound effects, music and interactive scenarios. Additionally to the story, sometimes we can even discover some small games or some personalization of the story based on characteristics of the children. There are interactive books as well were we can play with real physics simulations, but, the most important and hardest part is to encounter all these elements seamlessly integrated during all the reading experience.

We believe the story is a key driver throughout all the book, but saying which of them are the most important is difficult. If the story is beautiful and engaging but the rest of the elements are of poor quality or even don’t exist, why not staying only with the child and tell him the story orally from memory? Or, on the other hand if we gave a panoply of stunning animations and interactions that are placed in disorganized way and out of story context, aren’t we probably facing a distracting book and not an interactive book?

We think the most important is to look at a child eyes bright and smile on their face, being delighted scene after scene. Unfortunately the portuguese offer of this kind of books is very small. Taking in account that we have so great authors and illustrators of children books,  it’s a pity we have so little offer.

Interactive books can be an excellent alternative to television, that children mostly see overtime and without attendance. We emphasize also the lack of exchange of experiences on this area from which we have a lot to learn from each other, not only exchanging ideas but also some collaborative reading like is done with printed books, but of course with a different approach.

Humberto Neves

in Notícias do Parque