Speakaboos, a mobile educational platform for children that offers subscription access to interactive e-books and songs, is expanding its digital inventory with new content from Scholastic, the Jim Henson Company, and HIT Entertainment. The company is also launching an iPhone app and updating its iPad app to add new story categories.
Speakaboos offers access to a library of about 200 interactive kids' titles and songs and is available to individual subscribers for $4.99 a month or $49.99 for a year. The first three stories are free and the service also offers institutional pricing models for schools and libraries. The Speakaboos iPhone app is available via the App Store and its iPad app has been updated, adding Dinosaurs and Robots categories to its offerings.
Originally launched in 2008, Speakaboos is focused on licensing and creating interactive storytelling, animation and songs for children two to seven years old, according to CEO Neal Shenoy. “We translate publishers content into pedagogical content and technology to create interactive storybooks for the web, mobile, and tablets,” he told PW. Speakabooks content is developed by Dr. Alice Wilders, its chief content officer, an expert in educational and child psychology and the former co-producer of Nickelodeon’s Blues Clues and PBS’s Super Why!, educational programs for kids.
Speakaboos content is tied to reading levels and focused on creating “high interest” categories that attract children and offer “multiple ways for kids to find stories that they love,” Shenoy said. Content on the site is offered in “multiple modes’ including read to me (audio animation with text highlighting), read and play (kids click to hear pronunciations, play games or insert themselves in the story), and read it myself (kids read on their own).
Scholastic will add about 20 titles to Speakaboos – Shenoy said Speakaboos will convert these traditional titles into digital formats with added interactivity. But Shenoy said the company also licenses popular characters and underlying storylines – like the Jim Henson Company’s Sid the Science Kid or HIT’s Angelina Ballerina – and create original interactive storybooks based on them as well as turn songs into visual stories. Speakaboos adds about one to two new stories to its library each week.
Shenoy said usage data on Speakaboos shows that kids read 40-45 storybooks a month, up to 3½ hours per month. Shenoy said that Speakaboos institutional pricing is based on a variety of factors. There is an option for a school/library to purchase a single subscription for an entire class (with price varying on number of kids in the class). Another option is one-to-one access, where each student can individually engage with the Speakaboos technology during class time, or extended to after school and home hours.
“We’ve created a very high engagement model,” Shenoy said.