Articles tagged "children"

Early Age, Early Adopters: How Kids’ Aptitudes for Tech Change the Face of Reading

Photo Credit: http://ar.gy/38fP

Children interact with technology in a different way than we do. Their brains are like sponges, which means they are able to intuitively use any new technology without reference to older ones.

Give a child an iPad and watch what happens — within minutes he’ll be more proficient than you. When it comes to eBooks, the demographic difference between young and old readers is just as stark: according to a new study on digitalbookworld.com, more than half of U.S. kids are reading eBooks, which is more than double the proportion of adults who are e-reading.

Consider what this means as these young readers mature to become the dominant consumer block. These readers will be mostly digital-natives, their cherished childhood reading memories formed in the glow of an iPad and not the heft of a book.

While sales for eBooks have slowed their pace recently, all signs point to them becoming the dominant form of book within the next few years. Young readers will take the surge of eBook reading from the Children’s genre to Young Adult, and eventually to Contemporary Fiction. The study also found that young e-readers are reading a lot: 85% of young e-readers are reading at least one book a week, which, if you’ve worked with children, is a pretty outstanding figure.

Still, some impediments remain for young e-readers. Only 54% of children have access to tablets, where most young readers find eBooks. Once tablets and handheld computing become more popular and less expensive, we can expect the number of young e-readers to rise even more.

School programs that utilize tablets, as well as the popularity of smartphones with larger screens, will make eBooks soon indispensable to the learning environment, eventually turning an entire generation into e- readers.

And while we aren’t saying goodbye to print just yet, it does seem like there are going to be swaths of the population in a few short years who simply have never read a print book. For print books, its not the pricing that may be their downfall, it’s the speed at which children can adapt to new technologies.

Collaborative Storytelling with Kids

When I was little, I took stories my parents told me and added to them as I drifted to sleep. My mind would take a story and turn it into something very different. Bedtime stories becomes so much more than just stories in the imaginative minds of children — they become worlds.

Thanks to independent publishing, children and parents are using teamwork to create polished novels that can be shared with other young readers. A profile in Wired details how a father and his two young sons were able to collaborate on a successful fantasy book for children. Nimpentoad, which the family published independently, has been a success as well as a learning experience for the two young authors, Josh and Harrison. The boys have been selling their book at farmers’ markets, participating in public speaking engagements and agreeing to interviews for profiles in Young Entrepreneur Magazine. They are learning at an early age that publishing is just one step in the process of becoming a successful author.

Josh, Harrison and their father, Henry, are part of a long history of intergenerational writers who have used writing as both a teaching experience and a way to bring generations together by changing storytelling into a more participatory process. Writing groups around the country use intergenerational writing practices to keep seniors and young people interacting with one another.

Intergenerational writing can also help children with learning disabilities by encouraging them to continue to write outside of the classroom setting. Hal and Alex Malchow wrote their fantasy novel, The Sword of Darrow, when Alex, who is dyslexic, needed encouragement to continue his uphill climb toward reading at his own grade level. Alex was able to use the confidence from writing the book to tackle his own disability.

What intergenerational writing have you done? What have you learned from young storytellers, and what is your best advice for them?

Related Services: Children’s Formatting Service

Do enhanced eBooks promote children’s literacy?

Mixing a children’s book with something like a videogame seems like a no-brainer for promoting reading skills, right? Apparently not.

A new study finds that enhanced eBooks for children don’t raise literacy levels. The study, which followed 32 pairs of parents working with young children, found that the young readers were distracted by the many different interactive parts of the enhanced story, and quickly forgot certain key parts of the narrative. The young readers were given an eBook, a physical copy, and an enhanced eBook version of the same story. After reading them all, the comprehension just didn’t add up.

The authors of the study commented, “The enhanced eBook was less effective than the print and basic ebook in supporting the benefits of co-reading because it prompted more non-content related interactions. When adults prompt children with questions pertaining to the text, label objects, and encourage them to discuss the book’s content in terms of their own experiences and curiosities, this elicits increased verbalization by the child and can lead to improved vocabulary and overall language development.”

“Butterfly in the sky…”

LeVar Burton, doing what he loves.

So, last night I found the picture below on the often hilarious shirt.woot.com. I was suddenly flooded with memories of my favorite show as a kid: Reading Rainbow. Sadly, I realized that, before last night, I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I even thought about this program. Then it dawned on me…the entire reason I like books, love writing, and work at a self-publishing company isn’t because of all the Hemingways, Faulkners, and Emersons – it is because of one man: LeVar Burton.

With his warm, friendly charm, Burton captured childrens’ imaginations each week with fun stories, guest celebrity appearances, and a genuine enthusiasm to inspire kids to read. Without this show, I wouldn’t have discovered greats like Goodnight Moon, Miss Nelson is Missing,The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or Where the Wild Things Are. Even more remarkable is Burton’s 20+ year struggle with dyslexia, which he overcame before auditioning for Reading Rainbow.

It took a silly cartoon to remind me, but Burton really is a true inspiration. He diligently piloted the show Reading Rainbow, helping it win a Peabody Award and 26 Emmy Awards. The man is almost single-handedly responsible for helping four generations of kids not only learn to read, but find the fun in it. My favorite episode was when he went to a hat store. Each hat would magically transport him into the pages of a story. I remember endlessly begging my mother to take me to that shop for the better part of my youth.  I think I speak for several hundred-thousand kids when I say:  Thank you Mr. Burton. Thank you for teaching us that yes, “we can do anything.”

Wonderfully enough, Reading Rainbow will be coming back on an iPad® near you soon. According to Fast Company, Burton plans on revitalizing the show as a multimedia app with games, voiceovers, and over 300 books at launch. “But, you don’t have to take my word for it…”


What’s your favorite Reading Rainbow memory? Did it impact you as much as it did so many other young readers? Feel free to share in the comments below. Also be sure to learn about Lulu’s own literacy program:  Lulu for Literacy.

Room to Create- Kids Can Publish Too

This is Chloe. Her big sister, Mia, just published a book on Lulu, and now Chloe wants in on the action.

And why shouldn’t she publish? Seeing your story printed is an amazing feeling. I still remember staring in awe, when my first grade teacher placed a book of my story, Perry the Parrot, into my tiny hands. Of course, that “book” was held together by red yarn and glue. I probably would have never stopped bragging if Perry had been a printed book.

Perry the Parrot may be out of print now, but there is a whole new generation of budding authors on Lulu. Check out The Travelling Dolphin by Clara Curtis or, my personal favorite, The Shiny Fork, to see the possibilities. With just a little help from parents to create an account, scan, and upload their work, kids can have the best book they will ever take to school for Show and Tell.

What stories will your kids have to tell?

Bedtime Stories Contest

Bedtime stories are the best. They take you to magical kingdoms in faraway lands where, once upon a time, princes and princesses lived fairy tales lives.

If you’ve ever dreamed of writing your own, now is a perfect time to do it.

The folks over at Nature Made Sleep® are holding a Bedtime Stories contest that’s a great chance to show your creativity. The Grand Prize Winner will receive a professional illustration of their story, along with 10 professionally printed copies of their book courtesy of Lulu. In addition, they’ll take home $7,500 in cash, plus a year’s supply of Nature Made Sleep.

It’s easy to enter. Just visit the Bedtime Stories site, where you’ll be led through the simple process of creating and illustrating your bedtime story. Enter your text and drag-and-drop in some colorful illustrations before submitting your story to be entered in our contest. Contest winners will be decided by a combination of number of votes and selections by a panel of judges, so have your friends and family visit the site often to vote for your bedtime story, or visit the site yourself to vote for your favorite story (everyone can vote once a day).

So let your imagination run wild. And don’t let the bedbugs bite.

Banned Books Week

Celebrate Your Freedom to Read!

Every year hundreds of books are threatened with removal from schools and libraries across the country. Since 1990, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom has recorded more than 11,000 book challenges, including 460 in 2009.

Even though most of these challenges are made with the best of intentions (protecting people or children from difficult ideas), banning books prevents the freedom to choose and express opinions. Challenged books range from Mother Goose stories and the Harry Potter series to classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The ALA’s annual Banned Books Week is going on this Sept. 25 – Oct. 2. Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. Since its inception in 1982, Banned Books Week has served as a reminder that while not every book is intended for every reader, each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what to read, listen to or view.

Focus: Illustrated Books

Whenever I talk to someone about Lulu, they’re normally surprised to learn that Lulu lets you publish just about anything – not just black and white, text-based books, but full-color photo books, cookbooks, and calendars too.  I especially love the expression on people’s faces when I explain that Lulu can even help make a book with beautiful, vibrant illustrations too.  In fact, hundreds of authors and artists have created and sold their graphic novels, children’s books and art collections on Lulu.  Below are just a few of my favorites.

Through Tiger’s Eyes

Written by Judy Kamilhor with Illustrations by Edward B. Snyder

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Available in both hardcover and paperback, this  is hands down one of the most beautifully crafted I have ever come across on Lulu.

What does Tiger see as he walks through the forest? In this delightful blend of dazzling color and gentle poetry, children learn how to observe the world around them. Artist Edward B. Snyder and poet Judy Kamilhor have created a captivating book filled with color, personality, and love.

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Zombies Hate Stuff

By Greg Stones

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I keep a copy of this book on my coffee table because it is funny, cute, original, and illustrated very well.

The product description for this book says it all:  “An illustrated list of things that zombies hate.”  Artist Greg Stones takes us on a page by page guide through all the things zombies apparently don’t care for.  Each page is accompanied by a humorous illustration that  will surprise and delight you as you think to yourself:  “yeah, I could see why they’d hate that.”  And just for the record, my favorite is “balloons.


Peter & Company

By Jon Ponikvar

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A collection of strips and pages from the online comic strip by Jon Ponikvar. The book includes 75 strips in their original grayscale tones, 25 comic pages in full color, and a book-exclusive color comic detailing the events leading up to the online comic.

This collection is very well put together and is available in hardback, paperback, or as a download.  The illustrations are clean and sharp, and I particularly enjoy the illustrated introduction of the characters.  The strips follow the misadventures of Peter, a 12-year-old boy that faces daily issues, we can all relate to.