'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 24 February 2010

A PicPocket for your Pocket - Digital Literature for Kids

As a mum of two kids who love to travel, I was ecstatic to e-meet Lynette Mattke recently. Lynette is the brains behind PicPocket - a literary app for your iPhone that will really get the kids reading.

There's been many a time I've baulked at carting tonnages of books away with us when we travel, and even when popping out in the car to do some running around.

I SO love the idea that I can whip out the iPhone and flip open a story book the kids can meander through... anything to keep them from topping bleeping creatures in some shoot-to-maim game. Everything to have them read at any given opportunity.

Lynette started PicPocket because she wanted to offer educational and culturally valuable apps as one alternative to video games for kids. She is a big supporter of literacy and wants kids and parents to have the option of having great books for kids (complete with pretty pictures) in their pocket whenever they are carrying a smartphone or iPod touch.

To learn more about PicPocket and my potential infatuation with it, I asked Lynette to fill us in.

What is PicPocket? PicPocket Books publishes quality children's picture books to the iPhone and iPod touch.

What are its origins? I founded PicPocket Books as an option for kids (and their parents) to access quality picture books on their mobile devices whenever they're on the go.

What is unique about it? Several features set PicPocket Books apart from other picture book apps for the iPhone. We offer a wide range of classic content from established publishers, including previously published board books, concept books, easy readers, fairy tales, and other culturally diverse picture books.

We produce our titles through an artistic process and its apps remain faithful in content to the original books. The full color illustrations are detailed and clear. The text is easily readable and we offer a 'learn-to-read' feature where the text is highlighted as the words are spoken, encouraging a connection between the written and spoken word for emergent readers.

How would people find this product useful? PicPocket Books are useful for families on the go - on short trips to the grocery store, the doctor's office or while waiting for a sibling's ballet class, OR on long car or plane trips.

Your smartphone is something you’ll always have with you when stuck in a line or another wait. Use that time to share a picture book with your child, and let the story spark a conversation.

Many families are short on time. E-books can be read any time, any place. We believe that if reading picture books on the iPhone means that more families are reading together and that more kids are exposed to storybooks, then they are a great option for the tech-savvy families of today.

What sort of feedback have you been receiving? One mum told me "It's the first time I didn't feel guilty handing my phone over to my kid," because it is a book, not a video game. We've had general requests for more titles, and we often get specific suggestions of favorite books people would like to see on our platform.

Can libraries and schools use PicPocket or is it targeted at individual consumers? At this point, PicPocket Books are available on the iPhone and iPod touch only. Most libraries and schools don't have these devices for public use, although some schools are considering introducing iPod touch devices to the classroom. Schools are also eying the iPad, and PicPocket Books will be available on those once they are introduced to the market.

What books are you currently featuring on PicPocket? We offer a wide range of classic content from established publishers, including previously published books. Some of our recent releases include Round Is A Mooncake (released for the Chinese New Year), Papa Gatto: An Italian Fairy Tale, and Oh, Crumps - a funny story about a farmer doing his chores.

What books qualify to be featured? PicPocket Books seeks books which expand horizons with rich, lively illustrations and which are particularly conducive to being read aloud again and again. We work with a variety of publishers and authors who produce books for the iPhone that have been previously published in print versions.

Our goal is to provide children and families with high quality stories that are fun to read and that honor diversity.

How can publishers or authors have their books on PicPocket? We accept submissions from publishers and authors.

Do books have to be pre-published? All of our titles have been previously published, but PicPocket Books will consider previously unpublished illustrated works.

What do you hope PicPocket provides kids? Whether we're talking print or digital books, reading is an active mental process: something to encourage at every opportunity. My hope is that PicPocket Books on mobile devices can help encourage kids to read more, more often. I also hope that parents will read the stories with their kids, and that the stories can spark questions and conversations that lead to quality time for parents and kids.

How can people download books? People can go directly to iTunes and search for PicPocket Books on the App Store, or visit our website at www.picpocketbooks.com and click on the iTunes button there which links to all of our titles on the App Store.

Where can they go for more info? picpocketbooks.com

For more information on how Lynette began her small business, you can see a fab interview on Lynette at Australian Women Online.