Amazon has launched a quirky new reading app for kids that merges the color of comic books with a messaging app-style interface.

Rapids

Above: Rapids

Available for Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire devices, Amazon Rapids is touted as a “playful approach to reading for today‚Äôs connected kids.” What does that mean, exactly? Well, digging down into the details reveals that Amazon is looking to engage kids aged seven to 12 using a narrative style that emulates a messaging app. So rather than reading from left to right and flipping pages, kids will follow the stories as though the characters are chatting to each other by SMS or through WhatsApp.

It’s certainly a novel way of encouraging kids to read, and with colorful illustrations thrown into the mix, it can perhaps be best described as what comic books would look like if they had been invented in the smartphone age.

“Many kids already love using phones to chat with friends and family,” explained Rohit Agarwal, general manager of Amazon K-12 Education. “We wanted to see what authors and illustrators could create with an app that made it easy to tell stories that way.”

Amazon has enlisted established children’s authors, including Raymond Bean, to create fresh stories for Amazon Rapids.

Rapids

Above: Rapids

The app promises hundreds of original stories, with “dozens” being added each month. At launch, Amazon is charging $3 per month for unlimited access, though it stresses that this is an introductory price only.

Kids can access a range of genres, including sports, science fiction, mystery, humor, adventure, and fantasy, and the feature also includes a built-in glossary so kids can check the definition of new words. Additionally, there is a mode that allows kids to request that a story be read out loud to them, and they can follow along by reading the text.