Our feature this week is on PicPocket Books, founded by husband-wife team Lynette and Manuel Mattke who share a passion for children’s literature and technological innovation. Their custom application software brings children’s books to life on the iPhone, with new titles being added on a daily basis. You can browse their virtual library at www.picpocketbooks.com, or find them on Facebook and Twitter.
We love books. We love the feel, the smell, the sound of the gentle crack of the binding as we open a new book for the first time. Printed books have been treasured and cherished for hundreds of years, and they work just fine. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”… does the simple, straight forward, classic printed book really need updating and improvements?
More and more, literature is being consumed on electronic devices like the Kindle, iPhones, and the soon-to-be-released iPad. How do we, as readers, authors and publishers preserve a love for reading and literature, and encourage more reading, engagement, and exposure to books in the face of these developments?
Kids grow up surrounded by digital media and technology. From a young age, kids are very curious about electronic gadgets. Why not capitalize on that fascination to grab their initial interest? Whether we’re talking print or digital books, reading is an active mental process: something to encourage at every opportunity.
I am, have always been, and expect that I always will be a huge fan of books. I think we are a long way off from digital books actually replacing print books, but I do believe that digital books will become more and more visible and popular as the tech savvy generations accept them as obvious options at home, in schools, libraries, in businesses and on the go. I believe it is important to make quality literature available on electronic devices because the fact is that they will find their way into kids’ hands.
What are some considerations in producing kids’ books for mobile devices? Because of the crucial marriage of text and illustrations in children’s books, the artistic rendering of a book in mobile format is particularly important.
Fidelity to original print version: PicPocket Books places a priority on fidelity to the original picture book. The beauty of many classic and contemporary picture books lies in their simplicity.
Interactivity: PicPocket Books has added some interactive audio hot spots to selected PicPocket Book titles like Oh, Crumps, Peterkin Meets a Star, Monster Trucks, Tractors, Rescue Vehicles, and Round Is A Mooncake.
Animations: The animations in PicPocket Books are subtle, like snow falling or stars twinkling. The intent is to encourage curiosity by adding elements of interactive discovery to some books. We are consciously NOT creating video games, but hope that PicPocket Books can offer a gentle alternative to games for parents who want to offer their children mobile digital books.
Reading a story book on a screen is a very different experience from playing a repetitive video game on the same screen. It has the same educational, mind-opening beneﬁts as reading a traditional print book: it increases vocabulary, improves concentration and focus, and expands horizons. Reading helps children become engaged, rather than passive learners because books demand that kids to use their imagination to paint living mental pictures, rather than having images passively communicated to them through the picture on a television screen.
The technologies that are new to us are very intuitive to kids and will unquestioningly be a signiﬁcant part of their lives for years to come. It’s important to introduce our children to quality and age-appropriate content on the screen, whether we’re talking mobile digital technology, desktop computers or other media. Above all, digital books should not be viewed as a replacement for the valuable time parents can spend reading to their children, but as educational and culturally valuable alternatives to video games or movies, especially for families on-the-go.