Children’s E-books are Born: How E-books for Children are Leading E-book Development and Redefining the Reading Experience
AbstractChildren’s e-books waited to emerge until technology could support their advanced requirements. Recent technologies such as colour e-readers and tablets like Apple’s iPad provide support for heavy visual content and opportunities for interactivity. E-books for children have grown in availability and popularity and now include puzzles, games, music, video, and audio features that boost narratives and create a unique reading experience that is further from print than ever before. This article positions e-books for children as leaders in e-book development. It reviews concepts, practices, and scholarship in the area of e-books for children and highlights issues with definitions and research caused by the rapid growth of enhanced and interactive e-books. There is little argument among scholars and practitioners that the reading experience is changing, and the new generation of readers may have different opinions, assumptions, and preferences for the meanings of ‘book’ and ‘reading’. Managing these shifts in the reading experience, which is still strongly tied to notions from print culture, is an important role for LIS scholars, librarians, educators, and parents. Recent research on e-books for children focuses largely on literacy and education. Little attention has been paid to if and why children enjoy the e-reading experience. Additionally, the majority of current research examines children’s e-reading from an adult perspective with most surveys and interviews consulting parent participants and not children. An examination of relevant research as well as literature on the history and conceptualization of e-books and reading as an evolving experience reveals that, from new technologies to new experiences and new definitions, e-books for children are pushing toward the future of reading.
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