February 2013

Bookboard Children’s Librarian, At Your Service

by On February 28, 2013 in General

This is my first post as Bookboard’s new children’s librarian. I thought I should introduce myself and recount the story of how I became involved with the Bookboard team. I run my own blog (LittleeLit.com) where my colleagues and I develop early literacy programs (storytimes) that incorporate high quality book-based and educational apps and eBooks. I saw an article about Bookboard through Digital Book World and I realized that they were just up the freeway from where I lived. I sent an email explaining my work with developing best practices for children’s librarians in using digital media with kids, and inquiring whether Bookboard be interested in speaking with me about potential future collaboration with public libraries and implications for digital storytelling.

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Feature Update – Better Suggestions, Faster Everything!

by On February 15, 2013 in General, Releases

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Here’s what you’ll see:
<ul class="bullet">
<li><a href="#suggest">Better Recommendations and Unlocks</a></li>
<li><a href="#stream">Faster streaming of books</a></li>
<li><a href="#ipad1">iPad 1 performance upgrade</a></li>
<a name="suggest">&nbsp;</a>
<h3>Better Recommendations and Unlocks</h3>
We knew we could do better in suggesting new stories for your kids, based on their interests and habits. While we’re as geeky as they come, we know that nothing beats human expertise working in concert with our technology. We’ve enlisted the help of a fantastic, *real-life* librarian, <a href="http://littleelit.com/about/who-are-we/">Cen Campbell</a>, who’s as passionate about kids reading as we could ever be. With Cen’s help, we’ve curated our library and approach to suggestions, and we think the results are a major improvement.

<img src="http://bookboard.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/suggest_big.jpg" alt="Better suggestions" />

Every time you finish a book and unlock a new one, or are suggested other books based on what you just read, you’ll notice how well the sets match. We’re excited to keep working with Cen as our library grows, and have more refinements coming in the months ahead.
<a name="stream">&nbsp;</a>
<h3>Faster streaming of books</h3>
It’s no fun for kids to wait for books to load – from day one our focus at Bookboard has been to give kids the freedom to quickly sample and scan the stories they’ve got, without the hassle of download screens or library management. Staying "in the moment" means that kids are focused on the story, and we want our technology to get out of the way and do just that.

<img src="http://bookboard.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/stream_big.jpg" width="500px" alt="Faster streaming" />

With this release, we’ve upgraded our delivery networks so that books open near-instantaneously, no matter where you might be on this planet =). Even loading the initial library for a kid has sped up by a few precious seconds, avoiding the distraction and frustration of waiting for story time to start.
<a name="ipad1">&nbsp;</a>
<h3>iPad 1 performance upgrade</h3>
We’ve seen that many of you are using Bookboard on the iPad 1, and we’ve known that performance was sometimes sub-optimal on older hardware. In the spirit of a relaxing, focused experience, we’ve spent some time with the iPad 1, optimizing our app so that it feels much smoother. There’s always more we can do, but hopefully with this release, all the kids on "hand-me-down" iPads will be able to enjoy Bookboard story times that much more.
<img src="http://bookboard.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/ipad1_big.jpg" alt="iPad 1 Performance" />

As always, stay tuned – we’ve a LOT of big things coming in the weeks ahead! Thanks for all your feedback and support!

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Resolve to Read Aloud: Top 5 Reasons to Share a Book with Your Kids

by On February 1, 2013 in Childrens Books, General, Reading

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So it’s a new year, and time for those new year’s resolutions! ?In my house, I had begun to notice that our bedtime reading ritual had changed. ?Before, I had been reading a chapter a night to my kids. ?We had read The Wind and the Willows, the BFG, Ramona the Pest and other classics. ?I’ve always believed in the importance of a bedtime routine to?help the children settle into a good night’s sleep, and reading to them was a fun way for me to rediscover the favorites of my own childhood while introducing the kids to characters that they fell in love with too.

But over the holidays, with more social and family obligations, we had fallen into the habit of letting the kids read to themselves at bedtime. ?Of course this autonomous reading has its own merits — not to mention being a homework requirement. ?I found, though, as the new year began and our evenings quieted down, that I missed the ritual of reading aloud to them. ?To have everyone engaged in the same story, giggling or gasping at the same hijinks or heroics, creates a real bond — and is just plain fun!

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