ZooBurst is a new digital storytelling service that blends two of the things I enjoyed most as a kid: writing my own stories and reading pop-up books. The browser-based tool allows users to write, illustrate, and share their own 3D storybooks.

The 3D book-builder allows narration, images, animations, and speech balloons to be added to the story. Its interface is simple and certainly suitable for elementary-school age kids to use to create and illustrate their own stories.

ZooBurst has an online viewer that allows you to “read” the books created with the tool, and these can be embedded elsewhere as well.

As captivating as 3D storytelling can be to young users, it’s likely the augmented reality element that will make kids (and adults) love ZooBurst. Switching on AR mode enables your webcam to place the book virtually in your hands. And ZooBurst has recently added some gesture controls so you can turn the pages of your book by moving your hand in front of your camera.

ZooBurst is still in alpha and is accepting new users on a rolling basis. According to project creator Craig Kapp, additional features are in the works, including the integration of audio effects, more customizable characters, and enhanced AR visualizations. ZooBurst also plans a “classroom management” tool so that teachers can manage their own students’ accounts from within the system.