Today my Tech Savvy guest is Lynette Mattke, founder of PicPocketBooks. PicPocket Books allows children to enjoy picture books as downloadable iPhone/iPod touch apps. Children ages 2 – 8 can enjoy their favorite stories on the go—at the doctor’s office, at the store, on the airplane; any situation where it’s impractical to bring physical books along. PicPocket Books offer a new and unique experience, combining the beauty and distinctive quality of picture books with professionally produced audio narrations and interactive visual text.
Lynette is a stay-at-home mom turned mamapreneur (mom entrepreneur). Her background in English Literature, elementary education, and as a homeschooling mom of three children makes her passionate children’s literature and early literacy.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lynette to learn more about the company and her philosophy. From our conversation, it was very clear that her passion drives the high quality and diverse selection of books that are available through PicPocket Books. Now I’d like to share our conversation with you!
Lynette, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing many of PicPocket Books’ wonderful titles with Little Miss Techie and Captain Computer. We are certainly fans of titles like My Friend Isabelle, Sleeping Beauty, Giant Earthmovers, and Big Stuff: Monster Trucks but PicPocketBooks is not the only picture book app for the iPhone. What makes it better?
PicPocket Books has the largest selection of picture books 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 our 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 word is spoken, encouraging the connection between the written and spoken word for emergent readers.
From my background as a first grade teacher who taught reading, I recognize many qualities of your stories that promote literacy. Can you describe the features of PicPocketBooks that help kids learn to read?
First of all, most 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. Our apps offer a “learn-to-read” feature where the text is highlighted as the word is spoken, encouraging the connection between the written and spoken word for emergent readers.
Your smartphone is something you’ll always have on you when stuck in a line or other unexpected 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 and e-books can be read any time, any place. I believe that if reading picture books on the iPhone means that more families are reading together and that more kids have more exposure to storybooks, then they are a great option for the tech-savvy families of today.
You have tons of great titles including one of Little Miss Techie’s all time favorites- Round is a Mooncake. How do you select the titles that you turn into PicPocket Books? What criteria do you use?
PicPocket Books especially 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 to produce books for the iPhone that have been previously published in print versions. Our goal is to honor diversity while providing kids and their families with high quality stories that are fun to read.
When I first looked at Round is a Mooncake on the iPhone, I never expected the pages to look like the ones we know and love from the copy we always borrow from the library. How in the world do you fit an actual page of a book on the screen on an iPhone?
Even though the iPhone is small, it has great resolution and a back-lit screen. Even detailed pictures come through very sharp and clear.
Some critics say that reading a book through an iPhone contributes to the amount of screen time that children are getting. How do you respond to the recent studies about the amount of time children spend in front of a screen?
Why do kids get a lot of screen time? Because they are really drawn to this kind of media. The technologies that are new to us are very intuitive to them and will be a significant part of their lives for years to come. I think 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. I don’t see PicPocket Books as replacements for print books or 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.
Reading a story book on a screen is also 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: increases vocabulary, improves concentration and focus, and expands horizons.
There has been some discussion of digital books replacing real books. Some schools have purchased devices like Kindles and Nooks and gotten rid of their library collections. Do you ever see this happening?
I am, have always been, and expect that I always will be a huge fan of books. Books have been a wonderful vehicle for education, information, entertainment and beauty for centuries. They work great. 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, in businesses and on the go.
One complaint I often hear from critics is about the small screen size of the iPhone – the new Apple tablet will address that. The Kindle is a couple of years away from displaying color images, a feature that is very important for children’s picture books!
I love the addition of animated hot spots to engage readers. What are your thoughts about adding animations to your titles in order to make them more interactive? Is that a goal of PicPocket Books?
We have added some interactive audio hot spots to selected PicPocket Book titles like Monster Trucks, Tractors, Rescue Vehicles, and Round Is A Mooncake. We are adding animations to some titles that are currently in production. The animations are subtle, like snow falling or stars twinkling, because we publish previously published books rather than made-for-iPhone stories – so the artwork is already drawn, and we strive to remain faithful to the original book. Our intent is to encourage curiosity by adding elements of interactive discovery to each title which the hot spots and subtle animations provide. 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.
Thanks so much Lynette! I can’t wait to see what new titles PicPocket Books releases and how you integrate animations in the future.
Come back next week when I will be posting reviews of our favorite PicPocket Book titles!
PicPocket Books provided me with codes to download titles for review purposes. Titles are available from iTunes and currently ranging in price from $0.99- $2.99. All images courtesy of PicPocket Books.
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama