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HEBE - Highly Engaging eBook Experience



Landoni M.


Colombo L.



This study aims at producing novel interfaces for playing, interacting and reading e-books for children. It starts from the findings of a series of users studies (e.g. Wilson et al, 2003; Landoni et al, 2001; Malama et al, 2005; Landoni and Hanlon, 2004) we conducted on how adults interact with e-books in different scenarios of use (including education and entertainment) and explores how children can be involved into the design and evaluation of novel, engaging, intuitive interfaces in order to make the reading experience more attractive to younger audience.
In this context, children books are those written and designed specifically for children. This means that content, vocabulary, style, presentation and format are suitable for children´s physical, linguistic and emotional characteristics, with the caveat that each different age group has to be catered for separately.
Children books, especially those for young children, offer a good example of creativity and variety in terms of both content and presentation. Often, the concept of books as container of information is expanded, stretched and imaginatively re-interpreted. Different types of material are used, from paper to cloth, from plastic to feathers. Colours and pictures have an important role not only to attract readers but also to convey specific message. Design and content complement one the other, and narrative style is specific for each age group.
Children have limited ability when it comes to reading and writing according to age and development, personality and learning styles, they also have limited vocabulary and means to interpret metaphors and other rhetoric figures used by authors. The so-called digital native children are used to be continuously stimulated and their ability to focus on long uneventful sections is very low. Movies, television and peer pressure get a role in making a book a success for adolescents.
It emerges from this very brief overviews that children literature is a very open area to explore per se, even without considering the impact ICT can have on it; this is why it is really important to define carefully the scope of this study.
This project aims at studying how to design of e-book interfaces (or readers) for children as a way to support children exploring, interacting and reading children books in a creative environment.
We propose in this study to involve children in exploring different type of technology, hardware and software, in order to produce more engaging, usable and fun e-book interfaces for them.
Thus this study will focus on how children interact with e-books at home, school and library and taking into account children age and development stages, it will aim at answering the following questions:

  • Can e-books for children add extra value to the reading experience?
  • Are e-book models developed for adults still valid for children books or should these be expanded or even completely reconsidered to take into consideration specific children needs?
  • Are new design approaches needed in order to make children e-books fun and usable?
  • How children of different ages interact with e-books?
  • Do different ages need different e-book models?
  • What are the main activities related to reading, children would perform on e-books and how can these be better supported?
  • How can children be effectively involved in the design of children e-books?
  • How can children be effectively involved in the evaluation of children e-books?
The main hypothesis of the study is that in order to make e-reading a fun experience for children new innovative interfaces are needed and children have to take an active role in their design.

Additional information

Start date
End date
42 Months
Funding sources
Swiss National Science Foundation / Project Funding / Mathematics, Natural and Engineering Sciences (Division II)