Archive for Scholastic
It’s hard to believe that the boy wizard made his US debut fifteen years ago, but in honor of the occasion, Scholastic has a special prize for public libraries. As part of the commemoration of the event, libraries are invited to submit their plans for the ideal Harry Potter celebration; winning entries will be selected by Scholastic, and the fifteen favorite ideas will be awarded prizes that include:
• 100 copies of the new trade paperback edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, with the new cover illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi, to give away at the celebration.
• One new paperback boxed set of all seven Harry Potter books signed by Kibuishi for the library.
• A $100 gift card towards the Harry Potter celebration.
• A Harry Potter event kit with sticker sheets, name tags, bookmarks, activities, and more.
“Throughout the past fifteen years, librarians have introduced millions of children to Harry Potter, and helped young readers discover the joy of reading,” said Ellie Berger, President of Scholastic Trade Publishing, in a press release. “Today we celebrate librarians, the magic of Harry Potter and all the future readers who are getting ready to start their journey to Hogwarts.”
The titles were recently released with new US paperback covers designed by bestselling artist and author Kibuishi as part of the commemoration of what Rowling’s beloved series has meant for readers of all ages. All seven trade paperback titles with the newly designed covers will become available on August 27, the date that the celebration will take place. Winning library entries will be announced on July 31st, Harry Potter’s birthday.
The deadline to enter the contest is July 17, and the event is only open to US public librarians who are entering on behalf of their public library. Entrants must have permission from their public library to enter this contest. Complete rules can be found here. To learn more about Harry Potter and to view or download the new cover art by Kazu Kibuishi, visit http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/harrypotter.
Scholastic is the largest publishing company in the world that deals exclusively with kids books. To take advantage of the growing digital reading segment, it launched its Storia ebook store in March 2012. What does it take for a traditional publishing company to migrate away from its comfort zone and initiate a shift to digital media? Today, we talk to Scholastic on the evolution of Storia and what the future may hold.
Deborah Forte is President of Scholastic Media, and Executive Vice President of Scholastic Inc. She talked a bit about the formation of the Storia group and how the entire project came about. “We have a rich and well established relationship with parents, teachers, and kids. When we looked at the market, we needed to be poised to deliver a solid e-reading experience tailored to kids and able to handle the wide range of books we distribute. We were looking for software to power and deliver content to our customer base of kids, parents, and teachers. There was nothing currently on the market that suited our needs and we decided to bite the bullet and develop our own platform.”
Storia officially launched in March 2012, but it was in development for a very long time before customers got their hands on it. Deborah elaborated, “We started two and half years ago on Storia and we probably spent around nine months doing our research, looking at our library of books, creating our feature set and value proposition while gearing up operationally to be able to deliver on all of that. It was a very small team initially but we had the ability to tap into a very advanced network of experts within our company and we were able to leverage their expertise as the platform evolved. It was very important to us that we be platform agnostic and appeal to users on all devices and operating systems, specifically with the growth of mobile. We needed to be on iOS and Android.”
A year and a half before Storia launched to the world, it held a series of test groups, with kids, parents, and teachers. Deborah elaborated on the testing procedure, “The first group we tested the initial beta with, was a group of kids. We knew if the kids did not like it, it would not work; if they weren’t delighted and engaged, we knew we wouldn’t be able to roll it out. So we had a few kids testing sessions and it went extremely well. There were features that were validated, such as our pronunciation tool. This tool works by a user clicking on a specific word and hearing an audio pronunciation. We found that our Storia platform feature set motivated even the most reluctant readers by removing obstacles and providing support.”
Obviously, Storia resonated well with children, but when they started showing it to teachers, Storia received a massive amount of feedback asking to expand Storia’s ebook reading management system. Deborah explained, “When we originally developed Storia, it was designed to be a consumer application that allowed kids to read all formats of children’s books with a built in support system. After the beta, we started showing it to teachers and they all were requesting to use this system in the classroom. So, we developed a series of new tools for our reading manager. This allowed parents and teachers to track children’s reading habits, how many page turns they made and the length of time it took to read a book and it included more detailed reading level information. We feel very lucky at Scholastic that we can tap into the dialogue we have through Clubs and Fairs with teachers and have an immediate response to iterate our software.”
When Storia first launched, the platform mainly showcased Scholastic’s own ebooks, from its extensive library of children’s books. The success of the platform started to attract some of the largest publishing companies in the world, such as Harper Collins, Hachette, and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. These were publishers with whom the company had relationships to distribute print titles. They were extended to ebooks, bolstering the sheer amount of ebooks Scholastic was able to offer. There are now over 4,000 digital titles available and 650 enriched books.
One of the things that makes the Storia platform different would be the enriched ebooks. These include quizzes, interactive reading related activities , and videos. There are also read-aloud features that can narrate the book in its entirety for young readers. Deborah drove home the point that “There are no arbitrary games that provide a distraction, but only activities that make the book come alive and get kids more engaged with reading.”
What does the future of Storia hold? Deborah Forte finished up the interview by saying, “Our plan right now is to by the beginning of September to expand our base with the introduction of Storia on MAC. Storia is currently available on PC, IPAD, Android Tablets, and Kindle Fires. We really want to make sure our platform is available and accessible to the widest audience possible. We also intend on releasing more detailed reporting information for teachers and a new suite of enrichment tools that support Common Core. One thing we are putting a priority on is our new short reads program. Teachers want short form ebooks in their classroom because of the time constraints in the classroom. Often they have 15 minutes to engage in individual reading, and we want to be able to offer them some very short reads to accommodate their time constraints. We also want to start offering more video clips with our growing list of nonfiction titles.”
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.
As 2012 comes close to ending, many companies will be compiling data from the past twelve months to evaluate the old year and prepare for the new one. Yesterday, NetGalley released its top picks from 2012, while today Scholastic announced what it believes to be the major trends in children’s ebooks.
Lindsay Rudnkickas of digital book preview site NetGalley issued the staff’s top picks from books released in 2012. These titles included The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, We Sinners by Hannah Pylväinen, Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil, Penance by David Housewright, Kino by Jürgen Fauth, Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple, The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman, The Art Forger by BA Shapiro, Wonder by RJ Palacio, Splintered by AG Howard, Remarkable by Elizabeth Foley, Change the World Before Bedtime by Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, and Karen Good, Quiet by Susan Cain, Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson, How Children Succeed by Paul Tough, Comediennes by Darryl and Tuezdae Littleton, and Hot Dogs and Hamburgers by Rob Shindler.
But looking ahead to the trends that may play a large factor in reading for 2013, at least for younger readers, Scholastic issued its predictions for titles on bullying to be important.
“Publishing trends are truly driven by a vital community of readers – our kids,” David Allender, Editorial Director for Scholastic Book Clubs, in a press release today. “We see readers get excited about books, talk about them, and share them with their friends. Before you know it a book is trending, more and more kids are vying to read it, and they can’t get enough of it.”
Other trends that will be followed in the coming year will include a more scientific sci-fi, more emphasis on biographies and history for younger readers, more cartoon-based novels like the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, strong female protagonists and survival/adventure stories, and a greater appreciation for diversity in both the characters and the story lines of these titles.
Regardless of the type of reading that consumers enjoy, this year’s recent FutureBook conference and the upcoming Digital Book World show strong evidence that e-reading will continue to gain ground among consumers of all ages.
Following the announcement this week that Scholastic will be donating one million books to schools and libraries whose collections were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, Scholastic’s digital reading platform Storia will be making a similarly large donation, this time to encourage a love of reading at the holidays.
In conjunction with The UPS Store and Toys for Tots, Storia will give away an ebook to a child in need for every ebook parents purchase for their children between now and December 31st. This program is a part of Scholastic’s initiative, Read Every Day, Lead a Better Life. Additionally, the literacy drive this year will aim to reach children who lost their homes to Hurricane Sandy.
“Regardless of whether kids read digitally or in print, we want ALL children to have the opportunity to read every day and to read books they love,” said Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic, in a press release. “This holiday, together with The UPS Store and Toys for Tots, we can encourage families and communities to join in giving the gift of reading to their children and to children in need.”
The Storia platform is available as a freely downloadable app for iPad and Android tablets, as well as desktop and laptop computers.
The complete level of devastation to the northeast left by Hurricane Sandy still remains to be calculated in terms of dollar amounts, but new emotional losses are arising every day as the region and its displaced people begin to rebuild. One of the many impacted categories is the educational setting; with more than twenty schools in New York City alone still closed due to damage from the flood water, many educators can’t even get inside their schools to see what valuable educational resources survived.
Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher of children’s books and educational materials, is responding to the loss from schools in New York and New Jersey with a donation of one million books to help rebuild the schools’ libraries, as well as making educator materials like lesson plans available to teachers who have lost decades’ worth of accumulated instructional materials.
“The educators, parents and caregivers, who are helping children in our hard hit communities throughout the region, are true heroes,” said Richard Robinson, Chairman, President and CEO, Scholastic, said in a press release. “All of us at Scholastic are committed to getting these books, lesson plans and other learning materials into the affected communities as soon as possible in the hope that we can provide support for our young people as they return to schools that need extra resources.”
In additional the online resources Scholastic has made available to help children recover from the emotional trauma of the storm and its damage, Scholastic is working with Kids In Distressed Situations, Inc. to distribute the books and materials. Schools who wish to apply for grants for books from Scholastic can click here.
When Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was introduced to President Abraham Lincoln, the story goes that he shook her hand warmly, smiled, and said, “So, this is the little lady who started this great big war.”
The power and potential of one book has been recognized for centuries. Mere possession of John Steinbeck’s The Moon is Down was a death-penalty offense in fascist Italy. Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning title To Kill A Mockingbird sparked outrage across the country about the plight of US citizens in the pre-Civil Rights’ era South. Kathryn Stockett’s recent bestseller The Help is actually a book about the clandestine writing of a world-changing book.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that publishers can make or break their financial outcomes based on one book. Just as the erotica genre as a whole garnered widespread acceptance from both the industry and the readers following the popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (Viking), Scholastic saw a surge in sales for both print and digital with the publication of the Hunger Games trilogy, aimed at young adult readers but enjoyed by crossover fans.
Now, though, according to Jeremy Greenfield for Digital Book World, the true power of one book can be seen in the drop in sales. Greenfield’s article yesterday shows that children’s ebook sales—while continuing to grow—have slowed from the first half of the year. While July’s children’s digital sales were an 89% increase over that same period the previous year, January and February showed increases in children’s ebook sales of 475.1% and 177.8% respectively, according to the AAP.
While many would consider an 89% growth to be cause for celebration, it is a massive drop in the numbers that were seen during the time when all three of the Hunger Games books held the top spots on the bestseller lists for digital, while only two of the titles are even in the top 25 currently. This begs the question as to whether or not one book can change the industry as a whole, in terms of fiscal gains or simply spurring consumers to adopt e-reading.
Jeff Kinney’s bestselling middle grade series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, closely following its recent box office success, is now available for pre-order for Kindle. The first seven books are available for the pre-order; books one through six will be delivered wirelessly on October 30th, and the seventh book, The Third Wheel, will be delivered on its publication date of November 15th.
“We’re thrilled to have the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series available for our Kindle customers,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Kindle Content, in a press release. “We took care to faithfully reproduce the diary entries and illustrations in Jeff Kinney’s outstanding series, and they look great on both our Kindle e-readers and our new Kindle Fires. This is a perfect example of why we built FreeTime on Kindle Fire – kids are going to love reading these books.”
While the Wimpy Kid series is the bestselling kids’ fiction series so far this year, the next book in the series is already the most pre-ordered kids’ lit book of 2012. Additionally, Amazon released information on its new FreeTime feature, that allows parents to control their children’s digital content and the time spent utilizing it.
“The books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, along with over 7,000 other children’s books, will be available in Kindle’s new Free Time feature, which gives parents easy-to-use tools to personalize their children’s digital media experience. With FreeTime, parents never have to worry what content their kids will access—parents select all the content their kids can see and kids can’t exit FreeTime without a password. FreeTime also lets parents limit their kids’ screen time by content type—they may choose to limit videos and games, for example, but make reading time unlimited. Kindle FreeTime will be available soon on the all new Kindle Fire devices.”
Scholastic issued an email to clients earlier today announcing that the seventh Wimpy Kid title will be available as a Storia ebook on November 13th, two days prior to the Kindle launch. A sneak peek is available through the Scholastic website.
JK Rowling, author of the highly acclaimed bestselling Harry Potter series, spoke to over one million fans yesterday in a live webcast through Scholastic, Inc. The nearly hour-long webcast, broadcast via the internet to nearly a million students around the world, allowed participants to ask questions, learn more about the motivation behind the series, and garner interest in the Harry Potter Reading Club. Perhaps the most interesting turn of events during the broadcast, however, was Rowling’s admission that her next project will probably be a return to children’s literature, although she has spoken plainly in the past that she believes she is finished with the world of Harry Potter.
During the event, Rowling shared some behind-the-scenes and personal stories from her experiences with Harry Potter, such as registering herself on the Pottermore interactive website and finding out that the Sorting Hat had placed her in Gryffindor house, to the amusement of her young fans.
“We’re delighted that so many educators, parents and kids tuned into the live webcast and registered for The Harry Potter Reading Club, and we thank J.K. Rowling for sharing the magic of Harry Potter and her love of books and writing with our enthusiastic webcast audience,” said Ellie Berger, President, Scholastic Trade. “Scholastic has been in conversation with teachers, librarians, parents and other book lovers about ideas for bringing the Harry Potter books to new readers in exciting and different ways, and the webcast and Reading Club give us the perfect way to do that.”
Much of the focus of the event was to let participants know more about the Reading Club, along with informing educators, parents, and librarians about the options to find materials online to host their own local book clubs surrounding the world of the boy wizard. The full broadcast can be viewed HERE.
Scholastic announced a new deal with Albert Whitman & Company (one of the most established children’s publishers best known for their large collection of picture books, novels, and non-fiction titles) to offer a selection of books on the Storia platform. New ebooks will be available on the teacher-recommended e-reading app for kids at the beginning of spring in 2013.
Scholastic’s Storia offers more than 2,000 titles for kids from toddlers through teens with more content being added weekly. Storia was recognized by Warren Buckleitner with the “Editor’s Choice Award” for children’s ebook apps and most recently was named one of the “Top 10 Best High-Tech Toys” of 2012 and one of the “Top 100 Best Toys” of 2012 by Dr. Toy.
Among the Albert Whitman & Company titles to be offered on Storia are When I Feel Angry (written by Cornelia Maude Spelman, illustrated by Kathy Parkinson), Lulu and the Duck in the Park (written by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Priscilla Lamont), A Kiss Means I Love You (written by Kathryn Madeline Allen, photographs by Eric Futran), Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green (written by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Anne Kennedy), among many other fiction and nonfiction titles.
While parents might hesitate to hand Junior a $600 tablet to read a book, more and more parents are seeing the value in guiding young children through the basics of tablet computing. As a 21st century skill, tech savvy parents are responding to the wealth of content available for tablets in order to prepare their kids for the kinds of technological expectations they may find in school.
And the publishers are responding in kind. Several large children’s digital content developers launched new titles and features this week, aimed specifically at the younger tablet and computer users.
Oceanhouse Media, publishers of all of the digitized Dr. Seuss titles, launched a Dr. Seuss Bookshelf app, available free in the iTunes store, that will serve as a comprehensive location for all of the interactive Dr. Seuss app books.
Scholastic initially announced the launch yesterday of its Clifford’s Big Birthday app as a celebration of the beloved dog’s 50th anniversary, but then followed up today with a press release announcing the the Clifford app had reached the top ten on iTunes in two different categories, reaching both within the first 24 hours of the release.
Finally, JK Rowling’s fully interactive Pottermore website announced a few moments ago that new chapters—and thus, new adventures—had been added to the fan site. The second installment of chapters from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is now open to Pottermore users, along with exclusive content from the author.
While children’s books may not be the main source of ebook sales for publishers, many are developing the market, knowing that today’s app book reader is tomorrow’s ebook consumer.