Something that is interactive involves input or actions on the part of the user. Interactive reading thus requires some action or involvement on the part of the reader. In short, interactive reading encourages the reader to do more than simply read printed text. Print books with alternative endings, ebooks with hyperlinks, virtual books, websites and even blogs and wikis are examples of things that can be read interactively. In these examples, the action of the reader influences or enhances his or her experience of a text.
Elementary school teachers expose their students to various forms of interactive reading to teach language art skills and to facilitate reading comprehension. Teachers use a variety of tools, methods and interactive lessons to increase retention of topics and further learning. Interactive learning materials such as companion websites provide additional involvement beyond the text. Examples of such materials include online games, virtual books with interactive skill-building exercises, videos and other multimedia teaching aids.
School-age children are not the only ones to benefit from interactive reading. Adults have the ability to learn online from a variety of interactive media. Newspaper and magazine websites are primary examples. Through online content, publishers encourage readers to go beyond the printed text or online articles. Readers can comment, provide feedback, attend online seminars or glean resources for further study from reading and following links.
The use of interactive learning materials, and indeed the entire concept of interactive reading, is commonly associated with technology. In actuality, encouraging the physical interaction of readers with the text they read is not a new concept. Pop-up books with movable elements and additional content appeared in Victorian-era learning materials. These early forms of interactive reading sought to engage children with manipulative components to illustrate concepts and complex systems. Encyclopedias from the mid to late-1900s featured clear cellophane overlays that allowed readers to dissect anatomies system by system as they turn the pages to build each systems’ layers.
Modern technology allows for a far deeper and broader use of interactive media. Readers become an integral part of their own absorption of information with the use of multimedia tools, online content and various interactions. Publishers encourage readers to get involved with the materials printed by providing an ever-expanding menu of options for further understanding and enjoyment. Websites, blogs, user-generated wikis, online games and ebooks are just a few examples of what is available in terms of interactive learning materials and options.