Dec 1 2011
A friend of mine once pointed out a difference between people who lived on the poorer side of town, and the richer. She noted that on the wealthier side of town were people who read. They would read journals, novels, biographies, or any number of types of literature. This of course isn’t a hard and fast rule, but those who enjoy constantly filling their mind and imaginations with information, tend to be more successful.
The joy of reading starts at a very early age. The classic adage is that kids go to school to learn their ABCs. This can be taken as a figurative way of saying that they’re laying the foundation of learning upon which they’ll build their lives. And it all starts with reading.
As such, there are entire categories of books geared for each step of the way. First kids start with picture books, which may include a few words or two. Gradually those words come to form sentences, and eventually they become full fledged stories. As children become more adept at understanding the text, the pictures all but disappear. These part text, part picture books are an essential step in learning to read.
Bringing this entire process online, is uTales. uTales is a twofold website. First and foremost, it’s a site where children can download imaginative and creative books suitable for their reading level. Second, it’s a place where people can create such books and make them available for all. That is to say, it’s an online publishing network for authors and designers of children’s books. The entire suite of books is available on the iPad, iPhone, home computer, with Android access coming soon.
The core of uTales is the books themselves. These can be sorted by language, age group, and category. Most are available in the $3 to $4 dollar range, or you can sign up for $10/month for full access. These brightly illustrated books bring to life the stories within, helping to open up the world of reading to children. There’s a free trial for those who’d like to test it out first.
In the same way that authors tend to disappear behind the text of their creations, so they are in the background with uTales as well. Most people will come to the site to download and read books on their mobile devices. But the authors’ section is a rather impressive application, built with professional book design in mind. It comes with a drag and drop book creator where you can add text and images to create the story. A likely workflow is that an author will partner with a designer who will collectively create the story online. Once finished they can press the publish button and begin selling their creation. A set of How-To tutorials for authors can be found here. All books are reviewed prior to publication to ensure they’re suitable for the intended audience.
If you’re going to build a web application, you might as well do a complete job at it. uTales does just that with its all in one publishing network and book store front for children’s stories. It gives seasoned professionals a venue to distribute their creations, and allows amateurs to try their hand at creating children’s stories. The net result is that there will be more, quality children’s books available.
The gift of reading is one that stays with you for life. The best time to teach it is when children are young. uTales opens up this gift in a new way, so children can access books digitally, rather than the Crayola scribbled books that litter their play areas. It helps kids learn the love of reading, and facilitates the creation and distribution of books.