Storytime project poster

Five ways to make e-books more engaging for kids

What gets you excited about reading? For my capstone project, I explored ways of making digital storybooks more interesting for children. The best way to design for children is with children, so I worked with Kidsteam in the Human-Computer Interaction Lab.

My interactive prototype turns Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland into an immersive experience that lets readers engage with colorful animations, learn vocabulary words, develop a greater understanding of the characters and quiz their knowledge of the book.

1. Balance text with colorful animations.

Every co-designed loved animations, and they wanted even more of them. One designer suggested we add a feature to toggle on and off the animations, in case some user find moving pictures distracting or simply prefer still images.

2. Let interactive elements carry readers through the chapters.

Quizzes, short videos and game-like features were popular requests during Kidsteam sessions. Kids liked both reading checks and Buzzfeed-style quizzes.

3. Personalized picks help readers choose a new favorite.

Kidsteam co-designers wanted a Netflix-like experience for books. They requested personalized recommendations based on previous books they read and wanted to discover new books in ways other than by genre. Some test users wanted to browse their friends’ reading lists to get ideas and to give recommendations.

4. Make stories friendly for kids of all ages.

Kids requested ways to adjust the reading level of stories. Other ideas included adding text highlighting and a narration option.

5. Provide additional content so readers can dive deeper into the story.

Each group designed a way to access additional information, such as dictionaries, plot summaries, character bios and character maps.