Archive for Scholastic
The publishing industry has endured several years’ worth of “yes it is, no it isn’t” information concerning ebook penetration into the reading market, and formal numbers are finally demonstrating that ebooks are not a fad–while still acknowledging openly that print books aren’t going away any time soon either.
So what’s behind the rumor mill that ebooks are or are not faring as well as some data suggests?
One thing that supporters and naysayers alike forget to take into account is how the comparison between digital and print was created, as well as what titles affected the figures. It’s not enough to look at a number comparison when things like blockbuster titles account for distribution. In the case of Scholastic‘s publication of Suzanne Collins’ wildly successful Hunger Games trilogy, print books should have accounted for a higher percentage of sales, given the prevalence of print over digital in that demographic; at the same time, ebook sales of E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey trilogy and the anonymity of digital purchases–coupled with the self-publishing numbers from the first go-round–made ebooks seem to be the clear frontrunner.
Around the world, ebooks have told a different story in terms of sales. Russia has only now moved into the third place position behind the US and China, recently edging out the UK. This rise in sales rank seems to be connected to the popularity of a recent ebook piracy counteraction with the launch of LitRes, who made ebook sales popular for the first time within the country.
The smart money all this time, however, has been that there are genres and markets for both print and ebooks, and that different factors will lead consumers to make purchasing decisions of one over the other. Publishers and authors alike would do well to ensure that reading consumers can access both editions in order to make their selections.
Verdict: 4 Stars
When you’re up for a digital book innovation award at the Digital Book World Conference and Expo and you lose out to the powerhouse that is Scholastic, Inc., that’s still pretty impressive. Fortunately for Light Publications and their ebook Cinderella Spinderella, what makes their book great isn’t just the full-color illustrations, audio read-aloud, realistic page turn, or any of the other typical things we’ve come to expect from enhanced ebooks. What makes this title so great is how much thought and effort the creators put into the actual representation of the story.
Exhibit A: Cinderella is in a wheelchair, something that her evil stepsisters laugh at her for. Then the fairy godmother–who is actually a homeless woman–shows up and dresses Cinderella in a magical black garbage bag.
Exhibit B: When Cinderella does get to go to the ball, obviously…well…she can’t dance, at least not on those ridiculously impractical glass slippers. But the prince is so intrigued by her that they sit and play cards all night, talking and getting to know each other (no silent staring into each others’ eyes and not speaking…looking at you, Disney).
Exhibit C (and the most profound thing of all): With the download of this one book, the reader gets to pick Cinderella’s and the prince’s ethnicities, a fact that makes me prouder of Light Publications than I have been of any other digital publisher in a long time.
Along with other bonus features, this book is an educator’s dream and is sure to delight any reader. The need to download the book to a computer or laptop first and then transfer it over to the phone or tablet was a minor annoyance, a factor that hopefully the creators will take into consideration down the road. But overall, the book and its 25 possible story versions was pure genius that speaks to readers of any background.
Cinderella Spinderella is available at lightpublications.com/dropcard.
In-depth details on what motivates reading in children have come out in a new book, published by the world’s leading publisher of children’s content, Scholastic. In Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want – and Why We Should Let Them, authors Jeffrey D. Wilhelm (Boise State University) and Michael W. Smith (Temple University), explain that there has to be more to books for young people than just the typical academic requirements.
The results of the professors’ findings have led to an awe-inspiring but earth-shattering conclusion: school-based reading instruction should focus even more on self-selected texts for pleasure reading, and less on rote instruction from corporate lessons.
“At a time when the Common Core Stare Standards and high-stakes assessments turn the eyes of parents, teachers, and policy-makers to what reading can do for you, we should not lose sight of the deep and manifold pleasures it can bring to you,” Smith said in a press release. “Those pleasures are what motivate reading in the here and now and what make it likely that young people will read in the future.”
“Never underestimate the power of pleasure in motivating and sustaining reading and improvement in reading,” continued Wilhelm. “And never underestimate the deep psychological work, psychological satisfaction, and human development that is occurring for readers of freely chosen texts. Books that are often marginalized by educators or parents are often the best choice for the readers at any given point in their own human developmental journeys.”
As one of the leaders in curricular publishing, too, Scholastic’s release of Wilhelm and Smith’s title will hopefully hold some level of sway over administrative decision making at the local and state government school boards, allowing more time during the school day to be spent on individualized reading for pleasure rather than simply reading for the sake of the curriculum.
Reading Unbound is available from the Scholastic Teacher store for pre-order, and will ship in January. Free samples of the content are available for download now.
For the upcoming holiday season, Scholastic is making the gift-giving experience even more streamlined for busy parents. In addition to highlighting the recipients of the 2014 Gold Star Toy Awards in an upcoming edition of its magazine, the creators of the issue have made the magazine “shoppable” in conjunction with ShopAdvisor and Digimarc.
“This holiday season, we are offering parents the best gift guide with an easy shopping experience right off the pages of our magazine.” said Jamie Engel, Vice President and Publisher of Scholastic Parent & Child, in a press release. “Working together with our experienced editors and engaged parent readers, we created a trusted guide of toys that parents can feel good about giving this holiday.”
Parents can now move through the print edition and actually make purchases of the award-winning toys by scanning the watermarks of each product with their smartphones or tablets. Apps made possible by the two collaborators will let parents find out more information on the products, then make their gift purchases immediately.
“Readers of Scholastic Parent & Child magazine look to the publication as a trusted source when it comes to finding the right products for their children,” continued Scott Cooper, CEO of ShopAdvisor. “By shop-enabling their publication across platforms, they are making it simple and natural for readers to act on those recommendations. We are excited to work with Scholastic Parent & Child to introduce this innovative reader service and inspire shopping this holiday season.”
The Gold Star Toy Awards are determined by the editors of Scholastic’s magazine, chosen through thousands of submissions from toy manufacturers and were chosen based on being “innovative and cool; magnetic and engaging for the child; mind-expanding or educational; and an excellent value to the consumer.”
Many readers have fond memories of Scholastic Book Fair time when they were in school, getting the chance to browse new books and discover a new character, series, or author. But the world’s largest publisher of children’s books and content is bringing the book fair to mobile devices, thanks to its free app that lets young readers find out even more information about the books.
“We’ve been striving for a way to extend the book fair,” explained Deborah Forte, President at Scholastic Media, Executive VP at Scholastic, Inc., in an interview with Good e-Reader, “and this is a great compliment to the physical experience. Society is mobile, and it’s really great to be able to offer our customers a mobile extension of the book fair.”
Through the app, parents and students can scan the cover of books that are available on site and learn more about the book, the author, get recommendations for other books that might be of interest, get important information about the reading level and Accelerated Reading status of the books, and more. The app also lets schools offer their students even more selection beyond the books that are physically displayed during the event.
One very helpful feature that this app can offer readers and their families is students who attend schools that are taking advantage of digital learning can scan the covers of titles they are interested in within the app, then share that information at home with their parents in order to make purchasing choices about books.
“The application is a great way to connect the physical with the digital,” continued Forte, “and what we can do with this application is when a pair downloads the app it geolocates the fair and they simply press the location of their fair, and they go in and take the application and connects with the physical product in the fair. It offers far more information at the touch of a finger.”
One of the best features of this app is to help parents and teachers grow a curated collection of content that is age- and grade level-appropriate, and it also lifts the limitations of the physical fair to let readers find more content through the online fair extension. This also affords the hosting schools to benefit from the online purchasing in order to add to their fundraising book event.
Scholastic’s Storia ebook platform is also connected to the book fairs and the same information is provided through the app, allowing parents to choose the digital edition of books for their children during the excitement of the book fair.
“We really look at these fairs as a literacy event,” explained Forte, “we really believe that strongly that this is a way to create a lot of excitement around reading, and it works. Getting kids and families excited about reading and books is what it does, but it does benefit the school as well. The primary focus is that they want the kids to read more, and this is one very effective way to motivate kids and to allow them to be a part of the process of selecting books. The research says that when kids have a role in selecting their own books, they tend to read more.”
One of the great paradoxes of digital publishing and children’s content is that children and teens were the demographics who were at one point the least likely to consume digital content. Whether over the original concerns from parents of expensive device damage and enhanced ebooks being likened to video games, or the young adults’ own feedback that reading was for paper, devices were for socialization, children’s publishing even now is awfully slow to catch up.
But one company who is making tremendous inroads into the children’s market should come as no surprise. Scholastic, the world’s largest children’s publisher, has been pushing digital reading largely to their school customers as a convenient, money-saving tool that provides access to a wide variety of vetted, curricular content, so it’s a natural progression then that the children who read on computers and devices in school as part of Scholastic’s Storia platform would then carry over that high interest in digital to their home reading.
Judy Newman, President of Book Clubs and e-Commerce at Scholastic, spoke with Good e-Reader at the Frankfurt Book Fair to talk about what digital reading brings to the realm of children’s publishing, and where the company is taking content next.
“We’re finding that it’s very hard to engage seven-year-olds, but when they find content they can engage with, they’re much for successful. The more reluctant readers there’s more entertainment value, and for the more proficient readers there’s much more interest. But for the industry overall, it’s still slow. They’re saying about 5% of children’s is digital. We’re talking to other publishers and it seems pretty consistent that it’s just slow.”
Newman has a theory on why children’s publishing hasn’t taken off on devices. “Just the translation of regular books when you take a book and stick it up in the e-reader format, then who cares? The medium has so much more capability, which of course gamers know and app developers know. Book people just have to figure out almost how to make a different product.”
And Scholastic has done just that. With the launch of their third series to incorporate a print or digital book–an actual stand-alone title within a series, not an enhanced interactive format–that also happens to include an online gaming world that corresponds to the book, readers are taking to the series from both sides of the book: those who love to read and are intrigued by the game aspect, as well as those reluctant readers who get drawn into the books because of their involvement in the online game.
Newman also spoke about ways the Storia app is at work in classrooms, especially as more schools and educators put the Common Core standards into practice in the coming school year. Additionally, she briefly discussed future plans for a Subscription-based licensing of ebooks, as well as the recently launched initiative to license select titles to classrooms on a one-year time frame.
Award-winning illustrators of some of the best known children’s book series have come together with Scholastic to support a new literacy initiative, “Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life.” Thirteen illustrators each made their own artistic representations of Scholastic’s theme, all focused on the love of reading.
“This year’s Read Every Day artwork exemplifies the joys and dreams that are created through children’s books,” said David Saylor, Vice President and Creative Director of Scholastic Trade Publishing and the curator of the collection, in a press release today. “We extend our deepest gratitude to the diverse group of artists who have come together for this amazing opportunity to promote the importance of reading every day through art.”
“I am big fan of Scholastic’s ‘Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life’ campaign,” said Dav Pilkey, illustrator of the beloved Captain Underpants series. “Kids and their parents need to know the importance of reading every day and how it creates endless possibilities not only in school, but also for a kid’s overall future successes. I am honored to be part of this project with these amazing authors and illustrators.”
Some of the well-known artists who added their talents to the Scholastic project include Harry Bliss, creator of Bailey and its sequels; Nancy Carpenter, illustrator of Big Bear’s Big Boat; Henry Cole, author/illustrator of Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad; Kazu Kibuishi, author/illustrator of the Amulet series and cover illustrator of the recently released 15th anniversary editions of the Harry Potter series; Jeff Kinney, creator of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and its sequels; Yuyi Morales, author/illustrator of Niño Wrestles the World; Kadir Nelson, author/illustrator of Nelson Mandela; LeUyen Pham, illustrator of Freckleface Strawberry; Dav Pilkey, creator of the Captain Underpants series; Jerry Pinkney, illustrator of the latest paperback edition of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi; Judy Schachner, creator of the Skippyjon Jones series and Bits & Pieces; Axel Scheffler, illustrator of the Stickman series; and Erin E. Stead, illustrator of If You Want to See a Whale.
Materials for teachers who wish to incorporate these artists’ work in their lesson plans can be found on the Scholastic website, while the pack of thirteen poster-sized renditions is available in the Scholastic store. Proceeds from the sale of the artwork benefits the Read Every Day initiative.
At this weekend’s National Book Festival, hosted by the Library of Congress, book distribution and reading awareness organization Reach Out and Read was presented with the David M. Rubenstein Prize for the charity’s work to combat illiteracy, especially among low-income and underserved demographics of children. In addition the $150,000 prize, Reach Out and Read had a new surprise today: a donation of one million books from the world’s largest children’s publisher, Scholastic.
“We believe that literacy is the birthright of every child and the pathway to success in school, and it starts by creating a home library from which children can access and choose books that will set them up for a lifetime of independent reading,” said Richard Robinson, Chairman and CEO of Scholastic, in a press release today. “Scholastic has been a longtime supporter of the work Reach Out and Read does to promote early-childhood literacy, and their proven model continues to successfully prescribe reading for all children and their families during their visit to the doctor.”
“We know that books build better brains – and a million young brains will be shaped for the future through this incredible donation from Scholastic,” continued Reach Out and Read’s Executive Director Anne-Marie Fitzgerald. “Scholastic is our oldest and most generous partner, and without their continued commitment, we would not be able to help children grow up to become readers and support parents as their children’s first and most important teachers. As Reach Out and Read is poised to begin its 25th year, these books, along with the award from the Library of Congress, will be instrumental in creating a new generation of readers. On behalf of our 12,000 pediatricians and the millions of children we serve nationwide, I thank Scholastic for this tremendous gift.”
Reach Out and Read distributes over 6.5 million books each year to low-income families in order to build home libraries of books. The organization also works with health care providers who specialize in children’s health to distribute materials and to encourage reading in the home, especially oral reading in order to build word recognition, reading fluency, and to foster family time. The organization has already been proven to be quite effective, as children served by the program typically score several months ahead of their non-served peers in reading.
When ebooks first evolved into the digital editions that readers consume today, children were often left out of the mix. Parents weren’t eager to put expensive devices into the hands of young readers, and a cycle ensued as publishers didn’t create an abundance of content in the children’s publishing sphere. Now that the original stigma against children’s ebooks is dissolving, parents and educators are looking at new ways that children can best utilize literacy materials, including audiobooks.
While children’s publishing has long used read-alongs, those colorful story books that came with an accompanying cassette or CD, a new push for children to enhance their literacy and vocabulary skills through strictly audiobook stands to help readers make strides in fluency, comprehension, and thematic recognition.
A post by children’s publisher Scholastic outlines some of the benefits to children’s audiobooks, most notably perhaps being the erased stigma of a student reader having to use lower-level texts; once a student is listening to an audiobook, his peers have no way of knowing what he’s reading and if that book is far easier than books read by the rest of the class. Whereas as a struggling reader might have shunned all efforts at reading due to having to demonstrate his lack of ability for his classmates, now he’s encouraged to read under the anonymity provided by audiobooks.
For the complete post by Scholastic on the benefits of audiobook use by children, click HERE.
One of the chief concerns US educators have about the summer holidays is the potential for a reversal of the gains students made throughout the school year. When the study habits and learning choices students make during the school year aren’t emphasized during those months of “down time,” the end result is that schools often have to spend the first month of the new school year reviewing material that was taught the year before in an attempt to even bring students back up to the ability level they once presented.
This phenomenon, sometimes referred to as the “summer slide,” can be addressed by a number of initiatives at the local and virtual levels. Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher of children’s books, has been working on increasing student reading interest over the summer months with its reading challenges, aimed at encouraging students to meet or exceed goals outlined for them.
Now in its seventh year, Scholastic’s Summer Challenge focuses this year on the theme of breaking the world’s record for most minutes read by Scholastic participants. Students who log their minutes between May 6th and September 6th will earn free rewards and incentives, including invitations for their parents to download ebooks through Scholastic’s digital reading platform, Storia; this year’s challenge is also set up to incorporate the Scholastic Reading Meter, which takes students on a virtual field trip around the world for each goal level they reach. The goal to beat is last year’s best, which reached almost 96 million minutes from all participants combined.
“With the high expectations of the Common Core State Standards and other rigorous state standards, it is more important than ever for kids to keep reading throughout the summer so they go back to school reading and ready,” said Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic, in a press release. “The key to making summer reading successful for kids is to make it feel more like ‘homefun’ rather than ‘homework,’ and to give kids the power to choose the books they want to read.”
As an added incentive, the school who has the most students log the most minutes will win a visit from Dav Pilkey, author of the Captain Underpants series. To sign up for the challenge, click HERE.
Scholastic, Inc.’s interactive e-reading application Storia has been a godsend for teachers and learners across the country. By maintaining compatibility with nearly any device that a teacher could potentially use in the classroom–whether it is a mobile device or PC–educators are able to bring Scholastic high-quality, vetted content to their learning environments through the free platform.
Now, Scholastic announced today that it has signed well-known children’s publisher Little, Brown Books for Young Readers to the Storia platform, making many of its popular bestselling titles available in digital format for classroom use.
“We are absolutely thrilled to announce Little, Brown Books for Young Readers as our latest Storia publishing partner and to offer their amazing list of titles for children of all ages to experience and enjoy reading digitally,” said Jenny Frost, SVP ePublisher and eBook Strategy, Scholastic Book Clubs and Ecommerce, in a pres release today. “Teachers and parents are going to be excited about the rich collection of award winning titles, and children are going to love choosing what to read next from among our growing list of favorite authors and books.”
Among the award winning authors and titles from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers to be offered on Storia are “National Book Award winner, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes, Printz Award-winning author of Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi, Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson, Hug Time and The Gift of Nothing by New York Times bestselling Patrick McDonnell and many other titles. Many of these titles will feature enrichments, reading quizzes and other interactive activities to enhance the reading experience for kids.”
Apart from the easy access to engaging content and the ability to purchase titles within the free app, Storia also offers a host of teacher support tools for using both the app and the contents it contains. With teacher’s guides, video tutorials, and more, educators are equipped for the technology demands of the often talked about 21st Century Classroom and the Common Core Standards.
Scholastic’s teacher-favorited ereading app Storia, designed for use on tablets, PCs, mobile devices, and more, contains thousands of titles for readers of all ages, but now will feature something that is sure to earn even greater teacher approval: non-fiction titles from UK-based publisher Arcturus.
Why would non-fiction digital titles be so newsworthy? Because the highly anticipated Common Core State Standards, which are in pending states of adoption and implementation throughout the country, mandate the greater incorporation of non-fiction reading, even at the elementary school level.
According to a press release issued today from Scholastic, “We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Arcturus to Storia and to offer their titles for young children to enjoy reading digitally,” said Jenny Frost, SVP ePublisher and eBook Strategy, Scholastic Book Clubs and Ecommerce. “With the new Common Core State Standards being implemented into schools there is a need for more non-fiction books for kids, and Arcturus’ unique collection is ideal for our school market and Storia app.”
“This is an exciting time for young readers who are experiencing reading through different platforms and we are excited to bring our titles to them in digital format on Storia,” said Ian McLellan, CEO of Arcturus, continued. “For 20 years we have been creating titles that inform, inspire and entertain, and that remains our ambition in today’s growing and changing publishing landscape.”
The greater emphasis on a variety of genres and content areas for reading under the Common Core, coupled with the vastly increased demands that students be exposed to a wide variety of technology and media, makes free apps like Storia perfect for classroom use. In school systems that cannot afford the widespread adoption of a single branded device, the ability to consume content on a variety of devices and computers is even more important to learning outcomes.
“The Storia eReading app is designed to meet the needs of a 21st Century classroom, giving teachers the support and tools they need to keep their students motivated and excited to read. Teachers using Storia can access the free Spotlight on Storia, a teacher’s guide to using Storia in the classroom. The guide offers how-to videos that showcase students and teachers using Storia in small groups, as a whole-class activity and on an interactive white board. Spotlight also provides teachers with free booktalks and discussion guides to use with Storia ebooks, and other downloadable teaching materials and activities to supplement Storia books.”
Some of the major focus of this year’s Digital Book World conference has surrounded children’s content in digital publishing. Once relegated to cute video game-like app books, children’s publishers are now at the forefront of attention.
Several fully attended pre-event presentations and event panels were scheduled throughout the conference, including one in which Scholastic‘s Deborah Forte spoke, along with Rick Richter of Ruckus Media Group, Asra Rasheed of RRKidz, and Christian Dorffer.
Good e-Reader met with Deborah Forte following her panel to talk about some of the key issues facing both digital publishers of children’s content and the parent consumers of that content.