My kids are all keen readers – and the idea of an app that makes reading ‘more fun’ was frankly wrong on every level for me. I honestly said no, we wouldn’t even look at it.
I mean, come on. What in the world is more fun than reading?
But of course not every child is as lucky as mine. Not every child finds reading fun and easy and exciting. Books aren’t always the window into a new world; sometimes they’re just pieces of hard work, annoying frustration that we can easily manage without.
So on a second consideration I said yes, and we had a peek at this Zappar book and app for ourselves.
I left it on my desk for a week, ignoring its wooing ways.
“I’m a book! Read me!”
“No, you’re not, you’re an excuse for a book with a weird app thing required to read you. You’re a bad excuse for a book.”
“NOoooo! I’m a nice fun book! Go on, try me. Just a little bit. You’ll like me, I promise.”
Eventually I sighed and gave in. Installed the app on my phone, and handed it without looking to the 10yr old who reads the final Harry Potter books for fun. She’d soon let me know how useless it was.
Except she didn’t. She sprawled out across the landing, and giggled. It took her aa-a-a-ges to read the damned picture book. I mean, literally ages. And she’s a fast reader. I peeked round the corner and realised she’d gone back to the beginning and started again; and was still engrossed.
With a picture book? She hasn’t read picture books for about five years.
And then my smart kiddo decided she’d message me from my own phone and do the review for me…
“The book was really fun! It’s a bit hard to turn the pages, or read what is on there while looking at the phone screen, but it was enjoyable all the same. I liked the fact they mixed up lots of different stories at once – (Hagrid being my favourite, as I am a HUUUGEE Harry Potter fan) – and I loved the fact they were unique about it. The art style was unique, the stories were unique, everything! In every page something new would happen. Something.. exciting. Such a fun little story and I’d recommend it widely!”
Surprised, I asked her if she thought it would help kids who didn’t enjoy reading…
“it definitely made reading the book more fun, even though they used poems (I don’t like poetry much)! And yes I’m sure it would because it’s about a boy who DIDN’T like books in the first place!”
So. Yes, I read it too. And yes – I admit it. I really enjoyed it!
It’s tricky to capture the augmented reality that plays out, but this is a picture of the book on the left, and the same page on the right viewed through my phone screen; see how the image has changed? The crocodile beats it as the gorilla swings in, after you press the ‘button’ that appears. Honestly? It’s very cool.
The Boy With His Head Stuck In A Book is Zappar’s latest title, bridging the gap between the books they labour over and the tablets/phones kids love. An augmented reality book for children aged 7-11, it’s written by a primary English teacher who noticed that disengaged students were more inclined to pick up a book with a technological element, bridging literature and digital media.
The lead character is a boy that hates reading – and he gets his head literally stuck in a book when he is dragged to a library. He passes through a list of recognisable characters and places from various renowned books, and it’s a quick and easy way of introducing the original books; we spent a while figuring out what each book was that he visited, and my daughter Bear has earmarked a couple to come back and read properly.
The book is available now on Amazon for just £6, and to bring it to life with the augmented reality technology you just need the free to download Zappar app – discover more about Zappar and their technology here http://www.zappar.com/