Does your family regularly use digital books or ebooks? I love that they are easier to keep track of than a paper book and I don’t have to worry about one of my younger kids coloring all over it. We recently received PDF style electronic copies of books, but they had a special access code allowing us to access multimedia content to further enhance the stories.
We received three media enhanced books from Weigl Publishers, Glaciers, A Lion’s World, and There Once Was a Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant. Glaciers is aimed more toward the 3rd-6th grade range and the other two are meant for K-2nd graders. That said, all of my children, ages 3 to almost 13, liked them all.
The multimedia features on the books for the younger kids were minimal, whereas Glaciers was completely decked out, with everything from audio, video, quizzes, activities, slideshows, maps, transparencies, weblinks, keywords, printable activity pages, related articles, and more.
I liked that the special features were embedded into the pages of this media enhanced book. For example, the quiz was easy to find as we got to page 20. Once we clicked on the glowing, round “Quiz” button, the following screen popped up with an option to take the quiz online or to print it out.
This, and other Lightbox book titles, integrate online features and a variety of activities and resources to enhance the user experience while enjoying the book. It even has curriculum links if you are tying to see how this would fit into national curriculum standards. Sometimes I like to check out features like that to see what types of things I can expect my child to learn from a resource. They have it all laid out for you, as the teacher.
My favorite part of the Glaciers book had to be the embedded videos. Right off the bat, on page 4, there was a really interesting short video showing real footage of a calving event where glaciers just broke off like crazy over the span of a little over an hour. It was surreal to see this, and it gave us all a new perspective when we continued to read the book.
I would LOVE to have more books like this for my kid, particularly science or history books. It truly helps the information come to life in a way that children of all learning types can enjoy.
A Lion’s World
This story is simple, short, and excellent for young children. My 3 year old loved it. The ebook itself is colorful, with real pictures of lions to illustrate what they’re teaching the reader. However, once you get on the website to check out the media enhanced copy of the book, it really comes to life.
On each page, there is a woman reading the story, and instead of a static photo of the lions, it uses short video clips as the illustrations! The best part for me was that some pages had audio as well. My little boys loved hearing the lion ROAR and it was a cool surprise for them, because they were just expecting the book to be read out loud to them. This was an awesome way to take a simple book and make it even more real. My children love looking up videos to learn from, and this combined a traditional book with that media-rich experience they are already drawn to.
There Once Was a Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant
Okay, as a Texan, I already knew I would like this book. The cowpoke in this story does one silly thing and it leads to a long string of silly events. We love books with these progressive storylines. It had colorful and interesting illustrations, rhyming text, and a zany ending. What more could you want?
The online version of the book let you choose to read it yourself or to have it read to you. One thing I thought was cool while having it read to us was that when the cowpoke spoke, they had a male speaking with a drawl do those words. Other than that, a female was narrating. There were also some sound effects in addition to just the spoken word. That added a whole new level to the listening experience, too!
My 6 year old is a budding reader and really appreciated that the text being spoken would highlight in yellow. It wasn’t word for word, but small sections at a time. This helped him to be able to read along better, which is really helpful while he’s trying to figure out reading!
I hope we are able to get more stories like this. My little guys enjoyed being able to read this books without me around, and it was definitely more interactive than just sitting together and reading it from a print book or from an ebook alone.
Weigl Publishers sells hundreds of books that are media enhanced. They cover many different topics, interest level ages, subjects, and genres. We enjoyed the 3 that we were able to sample. Reading books in this way is a lot of fun and has changed my perception when I hear the word ebook because these are so much more!
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