Interactive Storytelling through LEDs and Paper Circuits: Tapping into Materials and Technology in Children’s Literature Education


Abstract


How can interactive technology enhance children’s literature? How can new materials and technology be incorporated into courses on children’s literature at university level feeding upon the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)? What is the best way to embed new materials such as paper circuits into a children’s narrative? This article offers a review of an experiment conducted at a liberal arts college where students were provided the theoretical and practice-based knowledge for designing children’s picturebooks, then asked to introduce circuit technology to their picturebook design. The upper-level course admitted students from across a range of disciplines, such as computer science, psychology, literature, medicine, and media and visual arts, which resulted in lively exchanges between them. Regardless of their strengths, students participated in the hands-on workshop supported by a designer and the course instructor to learn about electric circuits, copper tape, and LEDs, and seek ways to adapt them into the page structure and the narrative sequence. They explored how to fuse light into text and image so as to tell a story and facilitate engagement in a children’s book. This study builds upon the Maker Movement and borrows technology from HCI, fusing the two movements into children’s books. As such, students were asked to assess the potential uses of HCI technology in art and design, book arts and seek ways to apply those technologies to enrich children’s engagement during reading. Students revealed that this endeavour motivated them to think creatively as they explored ways to transform children’s literature. Thus, the course brought theory and practice together with electric circuits to offer a novel way to contemplate children’s literature.


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