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Posted by Nosy Crow, March 3, 2014

Nosy Crow Apps at GEEK2014

Picture by David Good Videography.

Children and their families had the chance to read and play Nosy Crow’s apps at GEEK2014 – a festival of games and play held annually in Margate. Emily Guille-Marrett, early reading expert, mum of two and organiser of GEEK’s Story Time event for 3-7 year-olds, has written a guest blog for us on why she chose to feature our apps, and looks at highlights from the event.

Why Nosy Crow Apps?
Fairytales and traditional tales have been collected and shared by storytellers around the globe for hundreds of years. Storytelling is rooted in our history and heritage. It is also rooted in gaming. As a publishing house producing both printed picture books and innovative story apps, Nosy Crow manages effectively to straddle reading and gaming with storytelling at its heart.

Story Time: Tell, Read and Play
I was keen to create a story event at GEEK which would explore traditional tales and fairytales in multiple forms. Children were invited to tell stories, listen to and read picture books and play fairytale apps by Nosy Crow. Margate’s Turner Contemporary generously loaned GEEK iPads so boys, girls and their families could read and play the apps for themselves.

1. Telling traditional stories
Encouraging children to tell traditional stories can have a positive impact on their reading and writing. They become familiar with features of the genre, such as learning how to start and end a traditional tale. And as their collection of stories-to-tell expands, they are able to draw from this resource, innovate on and create their own stories. This was something I was lucky enough to learn from educationalist and storyteller Pie Corbett. when I published his work a few years ago.

Inspired by his techniques, I showed children how to use actions and repetitive phrases to retell the Enormous Turnip and other favourite tales. It was fun to see so many children shouting, laughing and acting out phrases such as “He pulled and he pulled with all his might, but still the enormous turnip would not come up.”

2. Reading playful picture books
There is a wealth of beautifully illustrated traditional tales and fairytales to read with your child. However, I decided to engage the children at GEEK with contemporary picture books that play with and are inspired by traditional stories. Partly, I just wanted to entertain the children – fractured fairytales are great fun! But I also wanted to demonstrate that playing with traditional stories, hacking, borrowing from and mixing them up, is not that dissimilar to features of contemporary gaming.

As the age range of children in the audience was quite broad (3-7 years), I was careful to ensure that we had an appropriate story for everyone. Our range included:
• The Very Little Red Riding Hood by Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap
• Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson.
• Mixed Up Fairytales by Hilary Robinson and Nick Sharratt
• The Three Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas and Helen Oxenbury
• The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
• Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake

Once children had finished reading the picture books it was time to play Nosy Crow apps!

3. Reading and playing Nosy Crow apps
I cut short my demo of the Nosy Crow apps because, in all honesty, the children couldn’t wait to have a go at reading and playing the fairytales on the iPads themselves. The youngest child was a 3-year-old girl and she played Nosy Crow’s The Three Little Pigs. The oldest child was a boy about 7-years-old and he played Jack and the Beanstalk. Other children played these and also Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood.

One mum admitted that she was quite concerned about her 5-year-old playing on tablets but would definitely be happy for him to use story apps by Nosy Crow. Another gentleman explained that he had lots of grandchildren and an iPad. He had been unsure which apps to download and couldn’t believe the level of interactivity and quality for £2.99.

Storytelling past, present and future
GEEK is a great opportunity for people to challenge the status quo, showcase products and play with ideas. I was keen to see how I could engage 3 to 7 year-olds with storytelling in a variety of forms from traditional oral re-telling to printed picture books, and in digital form using Nosy Crow apps.

As someone who has worked in educational publishing, creating products to help children learn to read for over 13 years, I will always wax-lyrical about the importance of talking to children, telling stories and sharing printed books with them. I have also published reading and writing software for teachers to use on interactive whiteboards in schools and seen that new technology has the power to engage, inspire and teach children.

What I’m learning is that, with the right products, new technology has the power both to engage children to want to read and enjoy reading. It is true more research is needed to investigate the negative and positive impact of digital technology on children’s reading habits. But it’s interesting to think about the printed story book as a way into accessing digital skills and new technology as well as considering the digital story App as a way into reading.
What excited me most about the Story Time session at GEEK was that these young children were as engaged reading the picture books as they were playing on the iPads. A great outcome for bookworms and gamers!

I am grateful to Kate Kneale and the organisers of GEEK2014 for hosting Story Time and to Margate’s Turner Contemporary for loaning their iPads for free so children could enjoy reading and playing the Nosy Crow Apps. With thanks to Charlotte Raby, literacy expert and educational writer, for her help.

Thank you, Emily, for sharing these highlights! You can find out more about Emily Guille-Marrett’s work at Reading Fairy.

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