As a single parent and work at home mom (WAHM) I often struggle with how to keep my kids entertained & engaged while I go about the business of running the household & a business. The fantasy: they will lose themselves in a book or an art project for an hour while I prepare dinner or sleep in on a Sunday morning. The reality: screens & screams (the words “mine” & “craft” were recently banned in my household until further notice). Thousands of words have been written debating how much screen time is appropriate (if at all) & we read the studies with a wary, tired eyes. Technology is a part of our culture & our parenting in a way like never before; from social interaction & communication, entertainment & education we are all indebted to technology. We rely on it, crave it & if we are to keep our sanity as parents, we kind of need it.
In my household, I strive for balance. Computers & mobile devices are used for homework but also for entertainment. I have a No Screens After Seven rule so that the boys’ brains begin to de-stimulate & get ready for sleep. It also gives us some time together to catch up on the day or read a book together.
In fact, whenever possible, we encourage our kids to read. Being passionate readers ourselves (my ex once wooed me with a copy of “The Trial” & we still have similar taste in literature) raising our children to love books is extremely important. I recently gave 6 boxes of what my youngest calls “baby books” to a new mom and letting them go was like saying good bye to dear friends. Volumes of Dr. Seuss, A.A. Milne, Susan Boynton and Robert Munsch were packed along with “Good Night Moon” and that old tear-jerker “Love You Forever.” So many books, so many memories but it was time to move on.
As a die hard book lover, I was slow to make the transition to e-books (but now I’m a fan of both) and regarded interactive books with even more skepticism: how could an application replicate the simple yet profound joy of a book?
About a year ago, my friend Marc, a film & TV producer, told me that he was working on an interactive book application. A new field for him but one that made complete sense in the evolving entertainment industry. He & his production partner Leah Mallen were working with book designers Judith Steedman & Robin Mitchell Cranfield & Loud Crow Creative to bring Judith & Robin’s beloved book series “Windy and Friends” to a new generation of tech-saavy readers.
As much as I love writing this blog & participating over at BluntMoms & The Huffington Post, my primary career is as a publicist. I have run my own boutique PR firm for over a decade & am proud of the work that I have done for my clients in the arts, technology & not-for-profit sectors. I may dramatically declare the death of my industry once in a while but I still believe that there is a need for PR to help share good stories. And I may be a bit biased but I think Windy and Friends is a great story.
I was curious to see how the book would transition into a stop-motion interactive application, & was delighted to see that the Windy and Friends “appisodes” retain the charm, humour & simple beauty of the books that were once sold at Collette in Paris and locally at hipster haven Eugene Choo. They virtually bring the characters to life. Each appisode is a groundbreaking mix of handcrafted stop-motion animation with innovative interaction & cinematics, featuring original music, narration, & sound effects. Language support is available in English & French, which is especially useful in teaching your children another language.
Each storybook app includes a fun, easy to do craft for the PreK set that inspires them to play, laugh & learn, even after they put the iPad down. As Judith told me “It was important for us to create a platform for Windy and Friends that would inspire & educate children, not simply entertain.”
I’m proud to work with passionate artists & producers like the Windy and Friends team. They are constantly coming up with new & creative ways to engage our local arts community through collaboration & cross promotion, on-line AND off. In my opinion, technology will never replace traditional books but I believe it with creativity & high production values, it can bring the reading experience to a new level of engagement and wonder.
If you have wee ones, they will LOVE Windy and Friends. The interactive Christmas appisode “Mild and Mellow’s Holiday Light” is available today on iTunes. They also have an extremely sweet Advent Calendar with prizes and surprises every day until Christmas.
I have been retained by Twofold Films to assist with the promotion of Windy and Friends but opinions are my own and I only promote what I love.