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The Netflix of eBooks for kids hopes to rectify fact that 1 in 20 kids have never read a book

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A brand new one-stop platform for reading and learning has launched in the UK. Aimed at young families, Ebookadabra is the first subscription based e-reading app for kids. Hot on the heels of new research that shows how supported and structured screen time can help children learn, Ebookadabra will help three to seven year olds discover a whole new world of carefully curated children’s books. From dinosaurs to wizards, there are over 1,000 picture books for parents and kids to discover together. There’s even a handy Bedtime option to choose stories to help children wind down ready for sleep.

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To inspire more reading, children are rewarded with collectable stickers when they finish a story, encouraging them to start another book. The more they read the more new content will be unlocked such as educational activities, stickers, avatars and emojis. For younger children, word illuminated audio books will help to aid their sound recognition. While older kids can post book reviews for others to read once they’ve finished a book, and even record their own audio book version. Parents can monitor which books their children have downloaded and how many pages they’ve read by checking the Parent Dashboard. To keep motivation going parents can send messages within the family circle, audio recordings and book recommendations all via the app.

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Ebookadabra co-founder, Tom Grayson, said: “Ebookadabra is designed to be a fun and rewarding reading experience for kids which parents can feel good about. High-quality digital experiences like Ebookadabra will increase reading and book discovery. We don’t say it’s the only way that kids can enjoy stories but we do think it’s a crucial new digital ingredient in getting kids to read.”

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Available on Apple iPad and iPhone, the Ebookadabra has been developed with professional educators to help aid reading proficiency. All the content is age appropriate for kids under seven and is designed to support literacy through learning. Leading book publishers already featured within the app include Disney, Harper Collins, Bloomsbury, Parragon, Oxford University Press and Little Tiger Press. Having access to so many books at the touch of a button is set to make reading accessible to many children. The Ebookadabra library is constantly growing, and new content such as stickers, educational games, themes and avatars are regularly added to keep Ebookadabra a fresh and engaging world to encourage more reading. With early bird subscription available for just £2.99 a month, and will allow simultaneous access to Ebookadabra for parents and up to four children on an unlimited number of devices.

The app launches alongside research undertaken by Ebookadabra and Censuswide in advance of International Children's Book Day (Sunday 2nd April), which revealed that a staggering 1 in 20 British parents with children aged between three and seven have never read a picture book. That’s about 200,000 children who have never been exposed to a picture book, with Brighton and Norwich as particular literacy black spots (Brighton at 13% and Norwich, ironically Britain’s UNESCO City of Literature, at 12.9%). Of those families that do consume picture books, the survey of over 1,000 parents reveals that the majority rely on books provided either by their school (63%) or given to their children as gifts from others (51%). Of those respondents that did buy books for their children almost half (49%) said they bought them at the supermarket.

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By some estimates, there are more than 450,000 children’s picture books available in the English language. Despite this, children are exposed only to a handful of titles as family book selection is either passive (from school or received as gifts) or bought them at a supermarket where choice is limited. As a result, children are missing out on a mass of diverse book content.

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The Ebookadabra commissioned survey tested this directly by asking parents unprompted to name two picture books that their children had read. Julia Donaldson titles feature three times in the top 10 with The Gruffalo a clear leader scoring almost two and a half times as much as the next most popular book; The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The top 10 titles for this age group with author and year of publication were:

  1. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, 1999 (250)

  2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, 1969 (108)

  3. Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, 2001 (70)

  4. Peppa Pig by Lauren Holowaty, 2009 (54)

  5. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, 1989 (51)

  6. Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. Wilbert Awdry, 1945 (42)

  7. Mr. Men or Little Miss by Roger Hargreaves, 1971 (33)

  8. Stick Man by Julia Donaldson, 2008 (30)

  9. That’s Not My… by Fiona Watt, 2000 (29)

  10. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, 1957 (26)

When aggregated by author/publisher, Julia Donaldson tops the list again by a factor of almost four to one when compared to second place being Disney Publishing:

  1. Julia Donaldson (412)

  2. Disney (109)

  3. Eric Carle (108)

  4. Lauren Holowaty (54)

  5. Michael Rosen (51)

  6. Rev. Wilbert Awdry (42)

  7. Dr. Seuss (38)

  8. Roald Dahl (36)

  9. Fiona Watt (31)

  10. Eric Hill (26)

These findings suggest that a handful of established titles dominate children’s reading. Of the top 10 books, the most recent was published nine years ago, seven were published over 30 years ago - and all of them are represented by major publishers.

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Commenting on the findings, Grayson said: “Getting kids to read is about putting the right content in front of them. Kids are missing out on thousands of incredible new stories because the big industry players are focused on pushing hit content. Most parents don’t have the time to hunt out more diverse books. That’s why we created Ebookadabra to put a world of amazing picture books in every kid’s pocket.”

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