The Playful Affordances of Picture Book Apps for Children

Hanna Järvenpää

Abstract


The tradition of children’s literature has evolved side by side with the market of children’s entertainment, games, and toys. The selection of contemporary print products includes a wide variety of materially or technologically enhanced picture books. This background is rarely considered in the examination of children’s book applications that have attracted scholarly interest after the arrival of smartphones and tablets during the early 2010s.

The relationship between picture book apps, mobile games, and digital playthings requires further examination that considers the specific affordances of the mobile platform. Leaning on five case studies, this article examines how picture book apps afford opportunities for a reading experience that contains features characteristic for children’s digital play. For this purpose, I adapt a specific model of close reading that focuses on the visual, auditory, tactile, and performative elements of children’s video games.

On the basis of the case studies, it seems that navigating a picture book app requires balancing between different modes of action: reading, playing, and exploring. Engagement with picture book apps has different forms that resemble the features of both traditional print reading and digital play. However, further examination of children’s playful reading practices and intergenerational play is necessary from a premise that recognizes playing with a book as a valuable research topic.


Keywords


affordances; children’s literature; digital children’s literature; digital play; picture book apps

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