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READ OUTSIDE THE LINES

Interactive books enhance the storytime experience

Modern youth’s desire for interactive experiences and advancements in technology are helping to transform traditional forms of entertainment, such as books, into immersive events. The following books use digital technologies, including voice recognition technology, messaging platforms, and augmented reality, to bring stories and characters to life for readers.

LITTLE GOLDEN BOOKS

Disney’s Little Golden Books has teamed up with Google to launch an interactive reading experience that uses Google Home devices and voice recognition technology. As the book is read aloud, the Google voice assistant will play corresponding sound effects that enhance and enliven the story. If a reader skips ahead, Google assistant will adjust to deliver sounds for that part of the story, and if there’s a pause in the story—for a break or if a child has a question—Google Home recognizes it and will play low background music until the reading resumes. As Gen Zs have grown up with technologies like voice assistants in their homes, using them to supplement their reading and education is a given.

JAMES PATTERSON

Renowned author James Patterson is dabbling in a new type of storytelling ahead of the official publish date for his novel, The Chef—a story about a former cop and his investigation into a terrorist threat in New Orleans. The novelist partnered with Facebook to release an adapted version of The Chef for Messenger, which will give readers early access to the story and to interactive elements with characters and locations through videos and audio clips. Readers need only search the author’s name in the platform to begin the storytelling experience. Patterson hopes that the chat-style story will help create a deeper connection between him and his fans and make his work more accessible to the masses.

ROBIN HOOD’S LITTLE OUTLAWS

UK bookstore Robin Hood’s Little Outlaws has published the first in a new line of children’s history books that uses an AR app to create an immersive experience for young readers. Written by Adrian Sissons, illustrated by Martin Berry, and designed by Robin George, Robin Hood, who is he? follows seven animals after they awaken a magical, 1,000-year-old oak tree named Major who transports them to different events in history. Readers can access interactive features through the free AR app, Layar—through the app, readers can scan pages to reveal different story elements. Sisson hopes that the integration of the app will encourage more children to pick up a book and read.