PALO ALTO, CA, United States – Are you sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin . . . this is a story about how Nokia can help parents and teachers connect with children and teach them to read. We’ve all heard how the digital age is hampering youngsters’ desire to read books. So staff at the Nokia Research Center decided to write a new chapter in the drive to boost early readers’ literacy.
They’ve created Connected Reading, a free service and an interactive mobile app featuring popular new children’s book, Llama, Llama, Red Pajama, to encourage under 10s to engage in reading together with a family member or teacher.
A dedicated website will host a video of Anna Dewdney narrating the story, as well as the app which will allow parents and grandparents to read it to children remotely via a unique video conferencing system.
Nokia Research Center has teamed up with the Pearson Foundation to launch the web-based service in support of the annual JumpStart Read for the Record ® attempt on Thursday, October 6. On this day, millions of adults and children will read books in school and online to beat the previous total of 2,057,513 children who had books read to them in 2010.
The technology is inspired by a study conducted in the summer of 2008 when a group of researchers at the Nokia Research Center, in Palo Alto, began exploring how new technologies for “Family Communication” could help families with young children maintain their relationships over a distance.
Observations of 22 diverse families in the San Francisco Bay Area confirmed that young children and elders have the most time and desire to connect, but current technologies did not meet their needs.
Young children find phone conversations difficult because they cannot see the person behind the voice and they don’t know when to stop talking. But the joint activity of reading a book with somebody familiar via video conferencing allows them to engage.
Studies have shown that children are more likely to develop a love for books if parents read to them at an early stage.
So the video conferencing feature of the Connected Reading app allows parents and grandparents to manage to do that, wherever they may be. When a grown-up turns the page, the child’s page turns along with it.
The Connected Reading applications, also designed to support children’s literacy development and improve their vocabularies, can be found here.
For every on-line book read, Pearson Foundation donates books through its We Give Books campaign.
So get involved. And tell us which books you’d like to see at the site.