I recently sat down with Anna Broadhurst, the creator of one of the very first Augmented Reality digital pop-up books for 7-11 years olds (and Zappar’s Lead Designer). We chatted about how AR can be used to enhance storytelling for children, as well as the long-term benefits of using AR for the publishing industry.
Anna Broadhurst, Co-creator of ‘The Boy with His Head Stuck in a Book’
DM: Why did you create ‘The Boy with his Head Stuck in a Book’?
AB: The idea for the book came about after my old friend, Frankie O’Reilly, who works as an English teacher, took a copy of a previous pocket-sized AR book I’d made here at
After showcasing it, we got loads of requests from parents and teachers to create a longer version for older readers, and as she has a passion for writing and myself for illustration, it was a perfect match!
DM: Who did you create the book for?
AB: The story itself is written for 7-11-year-old reluctant readers, children who may be disengaged with reading, but love technology. This is a book for them.
"AR enhances the publishing industry thanks to the unique relationship it enables between physical print and rich, engaging digital content.”
DM: How does the book engage with kids differently compared to your average children’s book?
AB: We wanted to create a book that wasn’t just a novelty, but could really engage and inspire children through adventure and storytelling in a modern way. The digital content within the pages adds an extra layer to the story itself. So only by reading and scanning it will children experience the full adventure. We were conscious that we wanted the AR to add to the story but not replace it entirely.
DM: How can teachers best use the book to impact young readers?
AB: The book has been directly mapped to the KS2 curriculum, so teachers can use it in class and also as a valuable ‘take-home’ resource for extracurricular learning outside of the classroom. We think teachers will find real value in not only using it as a teaching resource at
DM: I’m curious about your creative process. What tools did you use and how did you go about creating the book?
AB: I started by sketching out ideas for each illustration before deciding on final compositions for each, I then put the sketches into Adobe Illustrator to flesh out the full-colour images. Next, I divided the elements up into individual graphics and exported them into ZapWorks Studio. Here, I animated them and added audio and basic functionality to make the experiences interactive.
“We wanted to create a book that wasn’t just a novelty, but could really engage and inspire children through adventure and storytelling in a modern way.”
DM: How can designers and illustrators who are interested in creating their own AR experiences get started with using ZapWorks?
AB: What’s great about ZapWorks is that designers and illustrators can create their own AR stories themselves. The online tutorials provided on the Documentation site are really straightforward and easy to follow. It’s simple to pick up and, once you’re familiar with its capabilities, start exploring ideas for integrating AR into your concepts
DM: What was your biggest challenge in creating the book?
AB: The biggest challenge for me was simply finding the time! Thankfully, ZapWorks made the process easy, but trying to complete all aspects of the project whilst working full-time was tricky!
DM: What advice would you give to publishers interested in integrating AR into their books?
AB: For publishers wanting to add some AR magic to their book titles, don’t be afraid to try it! It’s not as complicated as it sounds and adds real value to your publications.
DM: Finally, how do you think AR can positively impact the publishing industry?
AB: I feel that AR enhances the publishing industry thanks to the unique relationship it enables between physical print and rich, engaging digital content. It helps to modernise books for the type of audience that no longer finds them engaging enough compared to all the digital stimuli of current technology. Therefore, for book publishers, and the wider print industry, it can definitely help to reach new audiences and offer new and existing experiences for their readers.
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