Bringing History To Life

I have been out of the office this week, on a mini-vacation with my three-year-old son. We had two nights just the two of us in London, tromping around the city playing proper tourists.

The first place I took him was one of my favourite places in London: The Tower of London. I first went there on my own as a teen doing a summer internship at Reader’s Digest, spent HOURS listening to the audio tour and got a goofy picture with a Beefeater (1999!):


For my son, it was much more about the sparkly swords (he wasn’t as excited by the crowns) and the armour. He was captivated by the White Tower being a jail and spent ages at Traitor’s Gate and insisted we throw money in. He desperately wanted there to be a moat but apparently he has the Duke of Wellington (and icky diseases) to blame for its disappearance.

But the thing that was most impactful on him was the video that most people walked right past before going into the crown jewel display, which shows tapestries and paintings and photos of the royals over the years holding the jewels. It’s so hard to give a sense of hundreds of years’ of history to a three-year-old, but this really helped.

And it brought home to me how good “enhancements” are to your experience. The audio tour of the Tower of London, the signs that everyone peers at, the guides that talk to you. All of these things bring the experience of walking around this amazing place to life.

And that’s what we are trying to do with our enhanced books. You could simply read the book (and we hope you do) but you could see so much more with just a little bit of guidance from people who know.

Have you read an enhanced ebook and how did you find it?

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5 responses to “Bringing History To Life

  1. Sarah don’t like to think you went to the trouble of posting and not getting a reply. I am happy you and your nipper had good day. Good stuff taking kids out. Enjoy him while he is small, they soon get big.
    Sorry to admit I haven’t read an enhanced e-book-yet. Shameful I know.
    Stan Mills.

    • Thank you for replying! I really do appreciate it. And not having read one is just a valid and interesting response. It’s definitely not shameful — have you just not found anything interesting enough to tempt you? Or are you not a big e-reader? I do wonder if “enhanced” just isn’t a thing outside in the real world.

  2. Such a lovely thing to do at that age and wonderful memories – I took Bea to visit a friend in Paris when she was the same age and I love looking back at the photos every now and then to remind me.

    Using live experiences is the best way to help you remember it – as long as it’s done well! They do a Victorian day each year at Bea’s school in Year 2 and Bea can’t wait. It’s a real highlight of the year – everyone gets to dress-up and experience what it must have been like to be at school (if you were lucky enough!) and of course hopefully the kids will be thankful things have moved on since then!

    And I’m a BIG fan of enhanced books for the same reasons – when done well they really enhance the reading experience and help you get more out of the subject – I’m counting the days to get my iPad so I can get back into them.

  3. I love the Tower of London! I’ve only been once but I enjoyed it much more than I thought it would. I didn’t have an audio guide though (I don’t think I knew they had one!). I tried one out recently at the Harry Potter Studio Tour. The audio guides are iPods full of extra content and it added a lot to the experience. I’m not sure when I’ll get to try out an enhanced eBook as I have a standard Kindle, but they do look like they also add to the experience.

    • Oohhh… The Harry Potter Studio Tour! I was so envious of all the people lingering in certain places with their headphones. I had my little be with me, and didn’t have the opportunity to getter audio tour. Which just means I will have to go back. Aw, shucks.

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