Disney Publishing Worldwide is launching Disney Story Central, an online portal of interactive titles for kids aged 3-7. The story platform launches July 10 with more than 100 e-books, a book recommendation engine, a rewards system and the ability to set up personalized accounts for each child.
The Disney Story Channel app and website offers downloadable e-books based on popular Disney franchises. New titles will be added each month and content will be aligned with recent releases of Disney movies and TV shows. The app/website is not a subscription service; e-book downloads are made via a token system (sold via the app/website in quantities of 1 to 50, each token equals one book) that allows kids to make their own e-book purchases under parental management. The titles feature Disney’s “read-along” technology, which allows kids to read themselves or hear an audio rendition of the text.
“We started with this to help families encourage reading,” said Scott Gordon, DPW senior product manager, about the development of Disney Story Central. “Parents want their kids to love reading, to develop good reading habits and a desire to read on their own.”
Using tokens purchased by parents and distributed to them, kids can pick any book they want. The app/website offers rewards for reading (there are virtual trophies) and finishing books, and it allows kids to take their libraries wherever they go. Families, Gordon said, can set up separate accounts for each child, kids can personalize their libraries with Disney characters, the site offers recommendations and titles can be searched by character. “When kids can choose the books they want, they’re more likely to finish them and continue to read. We designed an 'enchanted book environment,' " Gordon said.
Titles can be read offline on the iPad and support for more device platforms is coming. And since Disney also owns ESPN, the global sports network, parents who already have ESPN accounts can log into the app immediately. “The accounts are the same. It’s all connected,” Gordon said.
Disney Story Central is “a community of readers that brings families together,” Gordon said. “We listen to our users and hope to deepen our relationship with the fans. That’s our goal.”