Using a Categorisation Structure to Understand Interaction in Children’s Books

By Claire Timpany and Nicholas Vanderschantz.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic Free Download

Children’s books can vary greatly in the type of and depth of interaction that is required from the reader. The types of interaction demanded by different types of books can be explored using contrasting paradigms. Previously Timpany & Vanderschantz (2012) proposed a categorisation of interactive children’s books that used two continuums that took into consideration Physical Enhancement and Content Sequencing. This paper looks at those categorisations made by Timpany & Vanderschantz (2012) and considers how the multitude of formats addresses either the physical or intellectual aspects of children’s reading and how this then may be used to engage the reader. To do this, a database of 132 books was audited to assess the interactivity of these books against those categorisation systems. The range of books surveyed is discussed in terms of what methods are used to create the interaction within each of the interactivity levels and across types of books. Findings from this audit demonstrate interesting interactions between age, physical enhancement versus content sequencing, and the relationship of these to mechanisms for interactivity such as paper engineering, illustration and story structure. The majority of the books in the sample have no interactive qualities on one of the two categorisation scales. Physically enhanced books were marginally more highly represented on the scale at higher levels of interactivity. Counter intuitively, the physically interactive pop up books were seen to fall predominantly in lower categories (1 or 2) for physical enhancement, while books requiring image search, an intellectual activity, were also predominantly in the lower categories (1 or 2) for content sequencing.

Keywords: Children’s Books, Interactive Books, Children’s Reading, Interactivity

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp.29-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 791.568KB).

Claire Timpany

Lecturer, Computer Graphic Design, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Science, University of Waikato, Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand

Claire completed her Masters in computer graphic design at Wanganui School of Design, New Zealand. She is currently a lecturer in computer graphic design at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, teaching both print and screen-based papers. Her main areas of interest and research are typography, print design and physical interaction design. Because of her love for both printed books and interactivity, this is where her research interests lie. Her research is currently focussed on the way in which people interact with printed material and how the benefits of electronic media can be applied to traditional media, such as print, to aid it in developing and become more beneficial and keeping up with the digital age.

Nicholas Vanderschantz

Lecturer, Department of Computer Science, School of Computing and Mathetacial Sciences, University of Waikato, Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand

Nicholas’ area of research focus has been in childrens’ on screen reading. These investigations have specifically looked into how typographic spacing could best affect childrens’ eye movements during reading. This area of exploration saw him graduate with a Masters in computer graphic design from Whanganui School of Design, New Zealand in 2007. He is a lecturer in computer graphic design at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. As a central part of his teaching and research at the University of Waikato, he pursues his interests in typography for children as well as socially responsible graphic design and graphic design education.

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