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Multimedia iBooks: How to Find Them

Multimedia iBooks for Children: How to Find Them

What are multimedia books:

            Multimedia books are a wonderful way to teach children. “Multimedia” means that you do not just read these books, you can also see and hear videos, audios, sounds, and work with interactive features embedded in these books. Some also call them enhanced eBooks. For the last few years, writers, developers, and publishers have diligently worked to incorporate many enhanced features into these books. The main reasons they are driven to this are twofold: first the technology has advanced to a stage where it can be done economically and secondly, these are better educational tools for children. People’s brains are wired differently – some learn in conventional ways like reading, some are more visual, and some learn more by listening.  These different ways of learning are encompassed in multimedia/enhanced eBooks. These features catch a child’s attention, intrigue the child, and then help him or her to understand and remember the information in the book. This makes enhanced, multimedia books an excellent educational tool.

It is important to note that multimedia books are not simply Picture Books for toddlers and  young children where there are more pictures than words or where illustrations are more dominant than words. An example of this type of book is “Baby Animals” on iPad published by Weldon Owen. There are also Illustrated Books where pictures are used to enhance the story; in other words there are more words than pictures. An example of these on iPad is The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson published by Ripple Digital Publishing Corp; it has pictures and text but no interactive features.

Multimedia, enhanced or interactive books are not like TV shows where children spend a lot of time passively watching the screen. Multimedia books have the potential to entertain, enlighten and educate a new generation of children the way Sesame Street on PBS does – where children not only enjoy the programs but are also caught up in the learning experience. You can happily give your child an enhanced, multimedia story book. Children will be engaged and learn more than from an ordinary TV show. Children can also read the books by themselves or listen to the audio.

Some multimedia books give links to websites for more information, or links to interviews and videos. Non-fiction books are appropriately utilizing these features.

These are early days for multimedia books and they are going along independent tracks, written in different computer languages for different devices or tablets. They are available for iPad, Nook, Kindle and other tablets. Different companies provide different features. In my opinion at this time, iPad multimedia books has the most innovative features because of Apple’s free iBooks Author program for developers, which encourages author exploration and innovation. Multimedia iBooks developed with iBook Author provide audios, short videos, sounds, graphics, Pop-up pictures and explanations that come to life at the touch of a finger, as well as interactive review questions and learning games.

How to decide – which Multimedia book to buy for your child 

            This is a difficult question to answer, but I outline some ideas to guide you. First, important features of a multimedia eBook could have some or all of the following:

  •     An entertaining story for the child
  •     Good illustrations
  •     Highlighted words a child can tap to get more information about the word or a picture to explain the word
  •     Sounds of animals, surroundings, and other sound effects
  •     Music appropriate for the story
  •     Short videos
  •     Interaction with the reader such as questions and answers or learning games.
  •     Story Narration

The best way to know a multimedia book is to download a free sample on to your device or tablet (such as an iPad) where you can read it and look over the interactive features. You usually see the first few pages of the book in a sample. But that is enough to judge if you like the book. Do you like the illustrations? Do they bring out the story well? Do they have Pop-Ups on highlighted words and do they enhance the story or give additional information to your child? Do you like the voice of the narrator? Will the story enhance your child’s education? Will it expand your child’s mind? You can also explore many free books available for download. That will give you more experience of the features.

If you believe that the multimedia book will engage your child and add to his or her knowledge base, then buy it! The prices are usually reasonable. They are certainly small, when you compare to the investment you have made buying the device.

 How to Find Multimedia Books

These books are available for several tablets. But I have found iPad stories and Apple’s multimedia iBooks to have excellent enhanced features; and Apple pioneered this area. You can use iBooks on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4 or later. On Mac, iBooks is included with OS X Mavericks or later. I believe that children can best read them on iPads and so will concentrate on this device for the rest of this article.

There is comprehensive information available about iBooks in the Apple Store previews. This may be better for some. You go to the iTunes Preview or copy and paste this web address into your web browser: It will bring up their list of movies, music, books, etc.

When you are looking for suitable books for children on iPad, you must first have the iBooks App on your iPad. You can download iBooks App free from Apple. Note that you need an active internet connection, to access the iBooks Store. You can see its icon on the screen – usually the second icon on the top line.

Tap the iBooks image, and it will take you to the library. When you click on the library, you will see a list of books you have already downloaded. On the upper-left corner you will see two clickable words: Store andCollections. Tap on the “Store” button. You will now find a search area on he right hand side where you can type the title of a book, a genre or an author. I typed “children’s book” and pressed return. This generated a list of books. Scroll down the screen and find a book you like.

If you tap on a book, you will get more information – what the story is about, what kind of pictures it has, if it has audio and video, etc.  I write  elephant stories from India and so searched Google for “iPad multimedia Indian elephant” and it came up with two of my books: Viku and Haatee and Viku Meets the Ivory Poachers. I clicked on Viku Meets the Ivory Poachers” on my iPad search store area. The following screen came up.

This gives you the details you need. In this picture there are two screenshots at the bottom of the page from two pages of the book – the first one is a white tiger with an audio symbol next to it, by clicking that you can hear the sound of a tiger. The second one is picture of a snake with an audio symbol for its hissing sound. The highlighted words in red will pop-up a picture or an explanation when tapped. For example, when you tap the word “rhinoceros,” it will bring up the picture of a rhinoceros or if you touch “sweets,” it will show you how some Indian sweets look. The audio icons at the top of each page will turn on narration of the story, page by page when tapped.

The Sample button for an iPad is located next to the price button (does not appear in this screen shot because I have already downloaded a sample). The search box on the store also allows you to explore featured books, NY Times best seller lists, top charts and top authors in the U.S.

If you decide to buy a copy, you tap on the price on your iPad, and it will change to “Buy Book.” If you tap on “Buy Book,” it will take you to “Sign in to iTunes Store.” Follow the prompts after you sign in.

When you buy a book, it will automatically appear in your iBooks library.

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