IPG Children's Publisher of the Year

Can apps enhance learning?

Posted by Nosy Crow Blog on Mar 03, 2015

Today’s blog post is by Rachel Stohler, mother of Meghan and a publishing MA student at Kingston University.

I bought the Nosy Crow Cinderella app for my five-year-old daughter, Meghan, last fall. We read through it once together and after that, she would look at it on her own every so often. She possessively called it “my app” and enjoyed the “Read and Play” setting.

Last week, I bought the physical version of the book—not for Meghan, but for my MA dissertation. (I am studying Publishing at Kingston University.) Meghan happened to see the book on my desk, and her reaction to it was fascinating.

Before I explain Meghan’s response, I should mention that I’ve become very interested in the development of children’s picture book apps that encourage literacy—apps in which enhancements (interactive elements that move, speak, change color, etc) actually enhance learning. I really want to know if picture book apps can be created to increase engagement, build emotional connections with characters and foster comprehension.

Without my intending it to happen, my daughter provided me with my first observational evidence that carefully designed picture book apps can actually aid literacy development.

When Meghan opened to the first page of the physical Cinderella book, she saw a smiling Cinderella and remarked, “She shouldn’t be smiling. She has to work hard.” She quickly turned more pages and then stopped at the section in which Cinderella is helping the sisters get dressed for the ball. She touched the pile of ribbons and baubles in Cinderella’s arms and grinned conspiratorially. I could tell she felt very clever because of her secret knowledge (that when she touched that picture on the app, the ribbons would move).

Meghan laughed. Then she said, “Can I have my app?”

“Do you want to compare it?” I asked. She nodded.

When I gave her the iPad, Meghan confirmed that on the first “page” of the app, Cinderella sweeps the floor glumly. She is not smiling. She says, her voice exhausted, “Another busy day for me.”

By holding the app and the book side by side, I could see that Meghan was right; Cinderella should not have been smiling. From her experience with the app, Meghan had made enough of an emotional connection with Cinderella that she could articulate the character’s feelings and evaluate how well an illustration conveyed them.

As Meghan continued to compare the physical book and the app, I began to wonder if a carefully developed app could actually enhance a young reader’s emotional connection to a text? Just last weekend I read Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain (2008) in which Maryanne Wolf explains: “…emotional engagement is often the tipping point between leaping into the reading life or remaining in a childhood bog where reading is endured only as a means to other ends.” Clearly, emotional engagement plays an important role in the development of what Wolf calls a “fluent, comprehending reader.”

Meghan’s desire to compare two formats of the same book is a fascinating demonstration of engagement with, connection to and comprehension of a text. Research by Warren Buckleiter (2006) suggests that children respond best to interactive media with which they can engage, and in Screen Time (2007), author Lisa Guernsey suggests that “…the strength of electronic books—whether in a child’s lap or on a screen [may be] that they allow children to engage with a book on their own terms.”

My observations of Meghan suggest that apps may have the potential of being more engaging to early readers than physical books. Of course, this is a problem if the apps are just games in the guise of books, but if the apps are actually carefully designed to scaffold learning and enhance the story, it’s possible they may be the most engaging entry into the magical world of stories.

Thank you very much, Rachel! If you’ve not yet tried our Cinderella app (or read the print book!) you can watch a trailer for the app and take a look inside the book below – and if you’d like to stay up to date with all of our app news, you can sign up to our apps newsletter here.

Buy the book online.

Come and work for Nosy Crow: we're hiring a Senior Designer

Posted by Tom on Mar 02, 2015

We are increasing the number of books we publish and branching out into new areas. We are keen to find a senior designer to join our design team. We need someone highly-organised, creative and technically skilled with experience of designing children’s full-colour picture books, and of working closely with illustrators.

This is a full-time role and the successful applicant will be based in the London office of Nosy Crow in Borough (near London Bridge, Borough and Southwark tube stations, and 15 minutes’ walk from Waterloo). We would consider an exceptional candidate who was not able to work full-time in the office, but we’re looking for an absolute minimum of 3 days per week in the Nosy Crow nest.

(If you’re a freelancer with substantial children’s illustrated book design experience who reading this, we’re always interested to have a sense of who’s out there, so by all means get in touch, but this is, as we say, a staff role.)

Candidates will have the right to live and work in the UK and will have a minimum of 3 years’ experience in graphic design, mostly if not exclusively in children’s publishing, and will have worked on picture books, and, ideally, on novelty books too. Proficiency in Indesign, Photoshop and Illustrator programmes, excellent proven book design and typographic skills, and an understanding and love of children’s books and children’s book illustration are essential. We’re also looking for good written and spoken communication skills, and the ability to work efficiently to a deadline.

The successful candidates will manage illustrated book projects (mainly picture books)) from initial layouts all the way through to production, supporting the illustrator or the author/illustrator throughout the creative process. The senior designer will report to the Head of Design and will work closely with more junior members of the team, supporting them as they refine their skills. The senior designer will also work with other members of the Nosy Crow team, particularly the editorial staff, to produce child-focused, parent-friendly, high-quality books.

We are still a small, close team here at The Crow’s Nest working in a friendly, highly creative and professional environment and we need team players who are willing to muck in, particularly during busy times.

If you would like to apply for a role, please send a CV and application letter, along with digital samples of your design work (using a link rather than sending a huge file), to Managing Director Kate Wilson via email ([email protected]).

The closing date for applications is 2 April 2015 at midnight (UK time).

Six Nosy Crow books in The Reading Agency's Summer Reading Challenge

Posted by Kate on Feb 27, 2015

Exciting times.

We have six titles on The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge list of titles. The Summer Reading Challenge takes place every year during the summer holidays. Children can sign up at their local library, then read six library books of their choice, collecting free stickers and other rewards along the way. It’s a way of extending reading development through the summer – a time when some children fall behind in their reading. The theme this year is “record breakers”. Libraries work really hard to make the selected books visible, with special display space and posters.

They are (drumroll):

My Brother is a Superhero
Nuts in Space
Superhero Dad
The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing
The Princess and the Giant

Congratulations to all our authors and illustrators.

In 2013, we had the following titles on the list: Shadows of The Silver Screen, Vulgar The Viking and the Spooky School Trip and Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam

In 2014, the following Nosy Crow titles were chosen: The Princess and Presents, Open Very Carefully, Troll Swap and Baby Aliens Got My Teacher