The Lairytales Kickstarter campaign launched this morning (did you notice? I didn’t like to mention it) and today has been a slightly surreal blur of social media updates, emails and phone calls.
What we’re doing is ambitious. Most crowdfunding creators want to bring an app or a book to market; we’re trying to build an app and publish five books simultaneously. It’s going to take a Herculean effort.
There’s method to my madness.
One of the most important concepts about Lairytales is that they can be used for both independent and supported reading. We want children to choose to engage with high educational value storytelling, whether there’s an adult in the room or not.
Despite best intentions, 21st century parents hand over childcare to iPads and tablets more often than we’d like to admit. I know because I am one of those parents.
Cosying up in the bottom bunk at bedtime and reading together is one of the highlights of my day but I’m also very familiar with the guilt that comes with giving in and allowing more screen time than I’d intended. I’m busy, I’m tired, and while scientists will try and tell you that antimatter is the most precious substance in the universe, parents know it’s really quiet time.
As much as I want to spend quality time reading with my daughter, often it’s just not possible. I’ll go as far as to say that sometimes, I just want a little time to read my own books or watch what I want on TV.
For me, it’s important that whatever my daughter is playing with or watching on her tablet, it makes both her and I happy. I want to feel there’s value in what she’s doing, but it has to be her choice. If I force it, things go downhill rapidly. So if it makes her laugh and she’s learning literacy, social and emotional lessons at the same time, everyone’s a winner.
Apps are a great way to deliver high quality content to children. They can be updated easily, they’re highly interactive and super engaging. But as a creator you need a lot of content to keep children interested and learning. I can’t expect to publish a single story in an app and hold the attention of primary school age children for more than a few minutes. It needs to have discovery, surprises and delight.
So to make learning better I need six initial characters, five stories and lots of laughs, on and offline.