What’s new in children’s books? Multiplatform storytelling!

One of the new trends in children’s chapter books goes by names like transmedia or multi-platform series.  These terms usually refer to books that have a connection to an online game (although I would also includePatrick Carman’s Skeleton Creek in this category, a series that featured related online videos and slightly predated the books with online games).

The Maze of Bones
An early example, which is still going strong, is The 39 Clues.  The books feature puzzles to solve and plenty of adventure, as well as some educational bits about different times and places in history.  Fountaindale owns this series in Spanish as well as in English.  The stories in this series have been written by a number of popular authors, ranging from Rick Riordan (known for the Percy Jackson series) to Jude Watson (known for Star Wars chapter books) to Linda Sue Park (known for award-winning historical fiction).

Wild Born
Another ongoing series, Spirit Animals, continues this method of using lots of popular authors.  In this case, the stories are more of a fantasy quest.  I had a chance to hear one of the authors (I think it was Maggie Stiefvater) talk about a reason publishers are trying multiplatform books.  She said her brother was a gamer who didn’t spend a lot of time reading.  She asked what would get him to read more, and he said if he knew a bit about a character and world (and didn’t have to spend time getting into the story and maybe deciding he wasn’t interested) he would be more willing to try something.  A series like this can be a good choice for a reluctant reader, because they can “try out” the story through the game.

Book of the Dead
TombQuest
by Michael Northrup is a brand new series inspired by ancient Egypt featuring plenty of magic and danger.  The Copernicus Legacy by Tony Abbott is also pretty new, featuring an around-the-world quest.  Infinity Ring, a series that appears to have recently concluded, features time travel.  Infinity Ring offers an app that can be used on a variety of devices, something I didn’t see mentioned for the other books’ games.

If you’ve been clicking on the links, you will have noticed that most of these series come from Scholastic.  The publisher recently created a website to cover several of the series at once.  You can take a quiz to see which series you would probably enjoy, or if you’re already a big fan you can interact in a moderated forum with other fans or look at fan fiction and author videos.

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