What is an Interactive e-book?

This article was written as an introductory guide for anyone interested in making an interactive e-book. I would rather concentrate on the illustration and art side of things, but I hope this research I did is useful for anyone who wants to make an interactive e-book from scratch someday. That would be no small task.

Several years ago I saw a thesis booklet published on the Issuu website about a project called Woolly and Shaggy by an Illustrator and animator called Lynn Qianliu Chen.

Inspired, I did some research, but I didn’t write my findings down except in the form of bookmarks, then I got distracted learning about other things. Issuu is a great place to find illustration student thesis workbooks by the way. I’ll put some links to ones I found at the bottom of this article.

A digital interactive picture book is a children’s picture book in digital format with interaction like a video game. They are also referred to as interactive e-books. Tablet touch and swipe controls make them easy to use for children. Music, videos and sound effects can be added. Some books also use augmented reality and 3D models.

I came to the conclusion the following skills would be needed.

Story writing and Illustration are of course the most essential aspects. Other skills needed include animation, basic game development and sound design. More complicated or custom interactions need some coding knowledge. If you were going to do the augmented reality or include 3D, you would also need knowledge to create 3D assets or access to 3D models. The most complicated Interactive e-books are like video games based on picture books.

Often there is also a physical version of the picture book and the app is a companion or updated version of it. I found a good guide to what goes into making an interactive picture book here: Kotobee Guide.

I researched specialised software that can make digital interactive picture books. Most made to be easy to use with drag and drop functions and less emphasis on coding. Essentially they are very simplified game engines for a particular purpose. You could also use game engines to make them if you had the knowledge, so I’ve also listed some of the main ones. I also surmised you could make an online interactive picture book using HTML 5, so I’ve listed some software for that as well. Here are some you could research if you are interested:

Specialised Software for creating interactive e-books




Kindle Kids’ Book Creator

Game Engines


Fungus Unity plug-in for story games





HTML 5 animation and interactive software

AdobeAnimate CC

Tumult Hype




Saola Animate

Opus Creator

Motion Artist


WordPress Plugins

H5P WordPress HTML 5 interactive content plug-in

WP Draw Attention

More Links and further related reading

Interactive Children’s Book Wikipedia

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