Ruckus Media, a multimedia children’s entertainment developer, is adding digital titles from five children's publishers to its Ruckus Reader app, a digital bookshelf, retail outlet and early reader learning platform. The company is adding titles from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, All About Kids, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Thomas Nelson and Charlesbridge Publishing, and also plans to release Ruckus 2.0, a revamped version of its Ruckus Reader App, in late November.

Launched earlier this year, the free Ruckus Reader app provided Ruckus Media with a platform to deliver its interactive storybook apps—its initial volumes are free—support discoverability and engage parents with the platform’s educational support and data on reading skills and usage. The new content pact will add such read-along digital titles as Toot & Puddle by Holly Hobbie, Caldecott Honor artist Nancy Tafuri’s All Kinds of Kisses (both Little, Brown), Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express and Curious George titles (Houghton Mifflin), Heaven Is for Real for Kids by Colton Burpo (Nelson), and storybooks from such authors as Max Lucado and Margaret Wise Brown.

In a phone interview, Ruckus Media CEO Rick Richter told PW that the new content deal will add about 35 read-along titles to the dozen or so interactive e-books already in the Ruckus Reader. “We are accepting ePub files with narration and each title is a read-aloud title so publishers have to have an audio file for us,” he said. “This limits our ability to intake titles.” But Richter said there are “more titles coming each month, so this is the start of these relationships.” And at the end of November, he said, the company is releasing a new and revamped app to be renamed Ruckus 2.0, which “will contain 100 titles total, partially consisting of these bestselling read aloud e-books.”

Richter said the Reader has attracted an audience “in the millions,” and the feedback on the Ruckus Reader app has been very positive. “There’s a consensus in the industry that people are disturbed over the Kindle platform having more than 70% of the market, so we’ve added a retail distribution outlet,” he said. He also highlighted the data the apps generate about usage as well as the educational emphasis of the titles, which have all been leveled for age-groups and Ruckus also offers a newsletter to parents on their child’s usage as well as a dashboard with more reading data. “We can measure the usage of every product,” Richter said, “and user engagement is high. We know how many are opening an app – parents are returning to our applications and we’ll have even more stats to share when we release Ruckus 2.0.”

“Ninety percent of the parents that use our app tell us that they find other outlets hard to use for shopping,” Richter said. “We’re simplifying the shopping experience. Eighty-five percent of the parents who use our app remember getting the update newsletter on their kids use data and they like it. And a third of them really dive into the pedagogy behind what we do and want more of our content.”

“Our publishing partners are real pioneers in this, “ said Richter, who emphasized the importance of viewing the Ruckus app as an experiment to learn more about user engagement, pricing and the like. “We’ve learned a ton of stuff in this space and we’re going to share it.”