As part of this year’s Children’s Literature Festival, two amazing speakers, Kate Wilson and Kate Pullinger explored the ‘trends that might impact on children’s reading as digital reading experiences evolve.’ As well as, considering the question: What kind of reading experience can digital offer children?
First up was Kate Wilson, from Nosy Crow. She led the discussion on how digitization is creating a stronger niche for amateur books becoming published, on websites such as Lulu. This has developed further into self-publishing which, if used correctly, has the greatest potential to engage children about what they’re reading and how they can write. That there is great possibility for books and literature to become a work of multimedia through audio reading or even MeBooks. The possibilities are almost endless as digital does not need to be completely severed from the print.
Digitization may well create new elements for the physical book but we are all hardwired to understand the story. It is what the story voices that remains fundamental. As Wilson stresses, there are a lot of changes and developments that is going to happen within the digital revolution but a lot of things must stay the same. It is still the experience, passion and skills that sell good stories.
Kate Pullinger, digital media author of Inanimate Alice, talked about the development, research and collaboration needed for new media platforms to work. It was a surprise that the Inanimate Alice project was only seen as a children’s story and a resource in classrooms once it was created and developed. However it is the project’s success that has allowed it to blend both elements effectively to make an impact on young readers. It has now developed the story where the games increase in sophistication as the character gets older – remind anyone of J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter? It is ultimately a source of transmedia – a digital hybrid.
Fundamentally, the talk centers on three important questions:
What does it mean to have interactivity in a story?
Do readers want interactivity in a story?
What does it mean for a reader to talk to a story through interactivity?
Kate Wilson puts it straight: we’re in the process of a digital revolution. The fact that we get to experience and learn all this first hand makes for an interesting journey. What can pages bring to a book that a screen cannot? However, we must keep in our minds that digital need not be an inferior alternative to books, or page . The trick now is to get the two to co-exist to the point where we can optimize the impact it has on children’s reading and writing for the future – so, I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure.