Hi, I'm Maja, a new trainee at Spinfy. I have two children that are thrilled about my new internship because they can test the latest interactive storybooks before they hit the App Store. Yesterday I borrowed one of the iPads and went home to spend some quality time with my family. We were all listening to The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My, and my three-year-old and her daddy got to look for hidden interactions. They both laughed and giggled and I had to patiently wait for my turn – that never came.
We at Spinfy find ourselves everyday in the middle of the oh-so-familiar discussion: Do interactive e-books inspire children to read or do they only distract them from the actual story? As a Norwegian, I have followed this debate closely in the Norwegian media. Quite a few kindergartens have started using tablets as a new tool for learning and entertainment. The general public has also taken on this new trend, so tablets and smartphones are flying of the shelves, but there are different opinions – both for and against. My experience tells me that the parents have a certain responsibility on how the books are applied. I read with my children and we use the interactions as a way of exploring a new world together. I’m not letting e-books become just another self-entertainment toy.
I believe that well-made interactive storybooks can help children find the joy of reading. What separates a good e-book from a not-so-good one, is whether the focus is on the story or the interactions. In a well-made interactive e-book, the interactions will blend perfectly with the story and enhance the already existing atmosphere and personality traits of the characters in question. If the interactions take over the focus, the reading experience will be lost. So there’s a fine line between too much of interactions and just enough to make the story more interesting. This is a challenge we face everyday in our work.