The Future of eBooks and Interactive Textbooks

I recently completed an online professional development class for art teachers called Tech Ready Teacher. Each week we explored another online resource that art teachers have used successfully in the classroom. The last week we discussed the future of online education, including interactive textbooks and eBooks.

url-5Textbooks for iPad will easily become the new way to use textbooks in the classroom. No longer will backpacks weigh 100 pounds. Students will no longer be able to use the excuse that they left their textbook in their locker and could not do the assignment. They will never want to put their tech down.

These interactive textbooks will be fun, engaging and be able to reach students in a way that I wish was available to me during high school AP Art History or AP Biology. Imagine studying about Leonardo DaVinci, an entire interactive slideshow popping up, zooming in and out to observe the brushstrokes, captions below each with tidbits of interesting facts. Imagine, creating notecards from just highlighting important sections as you’re reading! No more hours and hours of hand writing notecards, only to lose half of them in the bottom of your backpack.

Needless to say, my mind is blown and I am a fan.

Digital books will change education, the way we write, and the way we read.

url-6J.K. Rowling and Sony partnered up to create Pottermore, an interactive website that allows fans of the Harry Potter series delve into to the world chapter by chapter. It is designed to make the reader a part of the action.

Books such as Geronimo Stilton and Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, are already pushing the envelope of interactive reading in a physical book. I can’t tell you how many copies of Mighty Robot I have had to replace in my school library because of the flip book section at the end. It encourages children to ruffle the pages and flap the book around. While this is lousy for a librarian, the students gobble them up.

Imagine a fairy tale, digital and alive. Run up the tower alongside the Prince. Kiss the frog, slay the dragon. The story plots along, and you are there every step of the way. 

url-7Remember that movie from the 80’s, The NeverEnding Story? Bastian reads a book out loud and the story comes alive. In the end, the princess from the story speaks directly to  him, the reader now becoming the most essential character in the book!

Think of what technology like this could mean for students learning to read, Readers Theatre, their engagement with non-fiction, and enjoyment of fiction that literally can transport you to new worlds.

Traditional books as we know them will always exist. Until every student in school has access to an iPad, they will have to. But as authors, can we not push the envelope of what a book can be? 

Why not create a reading experience?

I can see the education world using books such as these to introduce topics to students on a broad scale. Although showing a Prezi can be a good teaser, the addition of the interactive textbook or eBook could help deepen student understanding of the content, connections with math and science, history and social movements. Students reading The Crucible could make immediate connections with historical facts about the Salem witch trials. Students reading Where The Wild Things Are could link to Maurice Sendak’s biography and body of work. They could literally take a walk down the hallways of the Louvre or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They could see scientists working in their labs, and architects designing bridges. All of this at their fingertips.

Want to create an interactive textbook or eBook online? Check out these websites and apps:

iBooks Author

BookSmart by Blurb

How eBook Publishers Stack Up

The way we use eBooks in the next few years is going to change drastically, and I, for one, would love to be a part of it.

Do you see interactive textbooks and eBooks for students as a threat to the tradition of physical books or as just the next step in literature for children?


  1. Hi Alison,
    I enjoyed your post and the links you shared on interactive book development.
    I have a background in illustration and console game development. (x-box) I completely agree that interactive learning is going to happen. I do not think it will completely displace print books, just as video games have not caused movies to go extinct. Print and digital can work together if publishers design their products for the different mediums from the beginning of the project. I think it opens up enormous challenges. Making interactive media is time consuming and expensive. However, after the initial development the framework can be reused from book to book. This leaves authors and illustrators to develop the content to fit within the existing book format. I am very excited for the day when children spend as much time participating in learning on a digital device as they do playing the game app flavor of the week.


  2. I am now working for a curriculum developer that specializes in interactive, electronically-based educational materials. Some of the projects sixredmarbles has contributed to are mind-blowing. Especially in the sciences, my specialty, having the ability to rotate a 3-D object, or click through an animation of an abstract concept, such as the carbon cycle or the phases of the moon, is incredibly helpful to providing students with ideas in whatever format makes that concept easiest to understand. Of course, sometimes that format is the printed word–but it’s so easy now for those printed words to be read aloud for students who need help, either because they are still learning English, or they need help reading, or whatever.


    1. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes me so excited about online tech. Perhaps if I could have interacted with the carbon cycle in 3D for ap bio I would have understood it better. Your job must be so fun!


  3. Thanks for the wonderful post, Alison! I really love paper books, but I also see the value in interactive textbooks. It will be interesting to see what happens as technology gets more and more advanced.


  4. I think interactive textbooks and eBooks can only highten children’s interest and draw in those unmotivated learners. My only concern was when you mentioned no longer needing to write out note cards. The act of writing the information is one way to help many learners remember content. Great post, Alison. Thanks!


    1. I remember writing out hundreds of notecards for my AP Art History class in HS and tacking them to the wall in chronological order to study from. I think you have a valid point about writing out something to remember it. I was just thinking it might be a good way for some kids to get more organized, having everything in the same place.


  5. I’m thinking of Big and the interactive comic book idea. It’s really great that all this tech can do some good. I adore interactive things that can being the story to life…especially for the girl in my life who hates to read.


    1. I think these interactive books and textbooks will be perfect for the kids who don’t like to read. My principal ordered ipads for our classes to use, and I can’t wait to see how some of this tech works in the classroom.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s