Scholastic has secured the rights to publish children’s nonfiction titles tied to The Dodo, a media brand for animal lovers. Scholastic will publish three nonfiction books to start, with the first being Pumpkin’s Story, a middle-grade reader about a small horse, based on the Dodo original video series Comeback Kids. The book launched earlier this month into Scholastic’s book fairs and book clubs only.
The second and third books will debut at retail and in school channels in spring 2020. Little but Fierce is a level 2 reader about small yet strong animals, based on the Dodo show of the same name, while 50 Odd Couples, a paperback true story collection about unlikely animal pairs, is inspired by the program Odd Couples. All the content features themes of resilience, courage, and acceptance.
“These stories are very sweet and they evoke empathy,” says Teresa Malik, licensing and brand manager at Scholastic. “They’re emotion-driven and help to build out emotional intelligence.”
The Dodo focuses on real-life animals, from family pets to wildlife. It creates original video content that is distributed through Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, IGTV, Snapchat, and Twitter, as well as on thedodo.com. The brand, founded in 2014, generates revenues through branded content, sponsorships, social media advertising, and content licensing. Since 2016, it has been part of Group Nine, a media company that also owns NowThis, Thrillest, and Seeker.
The Dodo ranks as the top animal-related brand on mobile, according to Nielsen, as well as number 1 on each major social platform where it has a presence, according to Tubular Labs. The Dodo’s internal analytics show it attracts 3.1 billion monthly video views, with fans spending nearly 32 million hours per month with its content.
The brand’s entry into children’s books is part of a broader expansion into the kids’ space. In July, it launched Dodo Kids, starting with three original programs distributed on a new dedicated YouTube channel. It has also moved beyond its focus on short-form entertainment, premiering its first TV series, Dodo Heroes, on Animal Planet in 2018, with a second series following in 2019. It announced a Netflix Original series for children, Izzy Bee’s Koala World, this past July, with plans for a 2020 debut.
The move into kids was a natural next step, according to The Dodo’s editorial director Ameena Schelling. “For years, parents who are fans of The Dodo have reached out to say how much they enjoy sharing our videos with their kids,” she says.
While the initial deal involves only the three announced titles, Scholastic hopes to publish more readers, photo-driven paperbacks, and other nonfiction formats for readers age 4–10. “It’s been such a fun partnership. Their office is just across the street from us so we can walk over any time and they can come here. I know some members of our team have met the animals over there,” Malik says. “We’re off to a great start with the brand, and there’s a lot of interest.”