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Introducing Zoozil

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Book lovers of a certain age may remember the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series, where, at certain points in the narrative, readers were given the option to make decisions that affected the outcome of the story.

We’d come upon a cliffhanger, and the book would offer options to turn to one page or another. Some choices furthered the story; other choices led to the protagonist’s demise, which, because the books were written in second person, always felt kind of personal. This blogger, anyway, still recalls a Punji Pit he tumbled into during one jungle-themed adventure, which brought that particular tale to a quick and inglorious end—all while lounging in the waiting room of his doctor’s office.

While this series might always carry a faint hint of nostalgia—those books were certainly “of an era”—a new publisher is determined to make reader-driven narratives not merely a quirk of one particular set of books, but the industry standard.

Zoozil is all about “choice-driven books.” They want to bring together leaders in “literacy, education, and technology and pair them with children’s book authors to create e-books serving the K-12 market that allow to you to Change The Story™—not just in our books, but in your classroom and home as well.”

Zoozil stories are based in history and offer multimedia add-ons that make for an immersive reading experience. Readers can organize their virtual book shelves into wish lists and books they’ve read. The product has only released version 1.1, so some caveats apply: there will probably be hiccups, but the product is likely to improve dramatically over time.

“Zoozilists” can download stories to any internet-connected device, whether through iTunes or through the Zoozil website (coming soon).

Other features include metrics that allow young readers to track what words they’ve looked up in the dictionary; what choices they made for their characters; and the ability to post notes, discover word pronunciations, and answer optional reading comprehension questions.

Beyond individual readers, Zoozil hopes to help educators improve reading comprehension in their students by making each story’s ending “true to life” and instill students with a sense of autonomy as their choices drive a successful narrative. Because the most effective way to explore Zoozil is to ask “What If?”, Zoozil “promotes an environment where readers can feel a sense of belonging, competence, and respect—something students may not always feel amongst their peers.”

Click here to visit their website and link to their social media feeds.