March 12th, 2010 | posted by: Lynette

Kids’ Books on the iPhone

We love books. We love the feel, the smell, the sound of the gentle crack of the binding as we open a new book for the first time. Printed books have been treasured and cherished for hundreds of years, and they work just fine. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”… does the simple, straight forward, classic printed book really need updating and improvements?

One way to choose a picture book...

More and more, literature is being consumed on electronic devices like the Kindle, iPhones, and the soon-to-be-released iPad. How do we, as readers, authors and publishers preserve a love for reading and literature, and encourage more reading, engagement, and exposure to books in the face of these developments?

Kids grow up surrounded by digital media and technology. From a young age, kids are very curious about electronic gadgets. Why not capitalize on that fascination to grab their initial interest? Whether we’re talking print or digital books, reading is an active mental process: something to encourage at every opportunity.

Another way to choose a story...

I am, have always been, and expect that I always will be a huge fan of books. I think we are a long way off from digital books actually replacing print books, but I do believe that digital books will become more and more visible and popular as the tech savvy generations accept them as obvious options at home, in schools, libraries, in businesses and on the go. I believe it is important to make quality literature available on electronic devices because the fact is that they will find their way into kids’ hands.

What are some considerations in producing kids’ books for mobile devices? Because of the crucial marriage of text and illustrations in children’s books, the artistic rendering of a book in mobile format is particularly important.

Fidelity to original print version: PicPocket Books places a priority on fidelity to the original picture book. The beauty of many classic and contemporary picture books lies in their simplicity.
Interactivity: PicPocket Books has added some interactive audio hot spots to selected PicPocket Book titles like Oh, Crumps, Peterkin Meets a Star, Monster Trucks, Tractors, Rescue Vehicles, and Round Is A Mooncake.

"Peterkin Meets A Star," by Emilie Boon

Animations: The animations in PicPocket Books are subtle, like snow falling or stars twinkling. The intent is to encourage curiosity by adding elements of interactive discovery to some books. We are consciously NOT creating video games, but hope that PicPocket Books can offer a gentle alternative to games for parents who want to offer their children mobile digital books.

Reading a story book on a screen is a very different experience from playing a repetitive video game on the same screen. It has the same educational, mind-opening benefits as reading a traditional print book: it increases vocabulary, improves concentration and focus, and expands horizons. Reading helps children become engaged, rather than passive learners because books demand that kids to use their imagination to paint living mental pictures, rather than having images passively communicated to them through the picture on a television screen.

The technologies that are new to us are very intuitive to kids and will unquestioningly be a significant part of their lives for years to come. It’s important to introduce our children to quality and age-appropriate content on the screen, whether we’re talking mobile digital technology, desktop computers or other media.  Above all, digital books should not be viewed as a replacement for the valuable time parents can spend reading to their children, but as educational and culturally valuable alternatives to video games or movies, especially for families on-the-go.

October 23rd, 2009 | posted by: Eva

Where do stories come from?

Well, lots of places! In a recent interview, author Andrea Cheng shares what inspired her to write Tire Mountain:

Andrea Cheng

Now in the iTunes App Store!

Now in the iTunes App Store!

“I ride my bicycle to work every morning, and I used to pass a tire store on my way.  I saw a little boy playing on the tires almost every day.  Even though this corner is really a blighted area, the little boy always seemed so happy with his home.  I named him Aaron Jacob Johnson and made up a story of how he used his tires to make a playground.”

Tire Mountain is Andrea’s first book to be available on an iphone platform. She is happy with the results!

“When I saw [the app], I was most impressed. I especially love the way that the dialogue is read. It is full of expression and drama. In addition, the pictures look vibrant and intense.”

Do you make up stories sometimes? Where do they come from?

October 4th, 2009 | posted by: ela

Get a Head Start on Reading While on the Road!

bookbabyIs it unrealistic to expect your baby or toddler to sit still unoccupied?  Probably.  But is it unrealistic to expect your child to sit while you read to him or her?  Of course not!  In her article “Give Your Baby a Head Start on Reading” Francisca Ortega makes suggestions for giving your baby a head start in school by reading to him or her at a young age.  One of the most important suggestions that Ortega gives is to “take books and writing materials with you wherever you go”.  Sometimes, however, this simple task of bringing along a big bag of books can become excessive.  Most children’s books are hardcover, making them bulky and heavy; not to mention the amount of other travel supplies you have to bring for your child just to make a simple errand.

But don’t fret, parents!  The simple solution to the clutter and extra bags while you’re on the road is only a click away!  Downloading a PicPocket book from iTunes onto your iPhone can make your time spent away from home more enjoyable and just as educational for your child.  Just like a traditional book, PicPocket storybooks include vibrant illustrations and the original text of some of your favorite children’s books.  A benefit of PicPocket Books is the “read aloud” feature that you can activate to let your child listen to the story as it is being read to him or her.  Each word of the story is highlighted to correspond with the audio track.

The early childhood benefits of reading are tremendous!  As Ortega writes, exposing your child to books and reading starting at 6 months is a great way to prepare him or her for school.  PicPocket Books is just one way to make your life easier and your child’s future a little brighter.