Child and tablet

The new frontier: Picturebook apps

Today, there are many picturebook apps for children available online.

While some of them are barely more than simply scans of existing picturebooks, others are created specifically for electronic devices - often, tablets or smartphones - and they have their own aesthetic and narrative devices.

This is what scholar Lisa Nagel says about them:

“With the emergence of digital narratives for children, published as apps for tablet computers, interactivity has become a central feature in children’s literature. Whereas picturebooks printed on paper invite the reader to interact physically with the story by for instance turning the page, opening flaps or pressing buttons, the readers of digital narratives are invited to interact by touching, shaking, blowing, shouting, dancing and filming as part of the experience, to name a few examples.”

Nagel says we should understand picturebook apps not just as works of art, but as events, taking into account the way in which real children react to them and engage with them. You can read more in her article at this link.

You can see an example of picturebook app trailer here.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

What kinds of literacy do you think picturebook apps encourage?

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This article is from the free online course:

Pictures of Youth: An Introduction to Children’s Visual Culture

University of York