Future reads

Along with newspapers, magazines and the rest of the publishing industry, books are being shaken up by the potential of the iPad and other digital devices – and children’s illustration is one of the ripest areas of all for the rich content and interactivity that digital publishing offers.

One of the most eye-catching experiments in children’s publishing for iPad was Alice for the iPad, an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland that transforms Sir John Tenniel’s classic pen-and-ink illustrations into interactive animations.

Dr Seuss’s much-loved characters have also come to the iPad, with apps such as The Cat in the Hat providing animation, interactive scenery and options for children to read to themselves or have the story read aloud to them.

This autumn, digital consultancy ustwo launched a new e-publishing platform, Papercut, with a trio of short stories aimed at adults – but Papercut is just as promising for children’s publishing. Rather than being constrained to pages, text is in a continuous panel at the bottom of the screen. As you scroll through it, animations, sound effects and more are triggered, creating an immersive, multimedia reading experience.

Such projects are technically demanding and time-consuming, requiring illustrators to work closely with developers, animators and more. At this stage platforms such as Papercut are highly experimental. But it’s clear that new avenues are developing all the time, and for those with the imagination and expertise, the iPad allows storytelling to go beyond the ‘words plus pictures’ format of traditional children’s books.