(Photo by Flickr user Jim Bauer, used under a Creative Commons license)
How do you teach children how to deal with a death in the family, or how to cope with emotions like anger or sadness?
There’s the traditional sit-down conversation, though not all parents are able to verbalize those concepts in a way their young children will understand. Affordability and accessibility can bar some parents from purchasing a book that guides children through these processes.
This is the universal problem Smart Kidz Club believes it has a solution for.
The Bear, Del.-based digital content production house operates under IT firm Spearhead Inc., founded by Harjeet Singh in 1998. Smart Kidz Club was launched out of Spearhead in late 2013 with a social mission to provide accessible educational content to children and their parents across the globe — with an emphasis on mobile.
“There is a need to have a library of books that is contemporary and affordable by everyone in the world,” said Singh. “We started acquiring our own content and created this library of books.”
To date, Smart Kidz Club has produced over 250 ebooks. Singh said that by the end of the year, they will have published over 300. The books can be purchased via a $7.99 per-year subscription, giving users access to the entire catalog of Smart Kidz Club books. The subject matter ranges American history to animals to mythology, and is available in multiple languages. Singh compares it to Netflix.
“Basically, the entire focus is to not only develop the technology for the delivery of ebooks, but also sttart acquiring our own content,” he said. “We have awesome delivery [technology], but found major publishers would not give the content to us on the very first day it was released.”
Singh said he works closely with teachers and librarians. Teachers using the platform provide feedback on what kind of content is missing from the library. Singh takes those suggestions and passes them along to his contingent of authors in Canada and the U.S. And as far as book art goes, Singh aid he’s got a small army of freelance illustrators to ensure every book looks a little different.
As far as funding goes, Singh said he has very little interest in investment. Rather, he actively seeks partnerships with nonprofits and school boards.
“Believe it or not, publishers do not give their ebooks to libraries,” he said. “With an ebook, how do you lend?” Singh said the most logical answer to that question is his subscription model, which allows libraries to access every book in the Smart Kidz Club library.
It’s not just libraries Singh is looking to partner with. He’s currently in talks with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “They have children who are in the hospital sometimes for 18 months without access to good quality educational books,” he said. “We would empower them with access to all of our books on their devices.”
As for the future? Singh said Smart Kidz Club will soon be launching animated, interactive ebooks. The first to be released will be a health and hygiene book called “Mr. Snot,” which will launch on Apple’s iBook platform.
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