By Jaye Kephart, owner of Ripple Reader, www.ripplereader.com
• Ripple provides a free e-reader for children’s picture books and allows parents to record themselves reading the text
• Instead of just following along, children increasingly want to read and record the stories for themselves
My sister died of cancer when her grandkids were only one and two years old. She often talked about her biggest loss — missing her grandkids growing up, not being able to read them a story nor hold them. That sparked the first ember of my company, Ripple Reader.
I sent her an old Fisher-Price tape recorder with a set of blank tapes along with picture books appropriate for children from birth to twelve years. She could leave a legacy for her grandbabies who would hear her voice reading to them and always enjoy a special connection with her.
More than a decade later, the technology caught up to my recording books idea. I started developing Ripple Reader in 2007 with the purposes of honoring my sister’s legacy and giving families digital, high-quality, recordable books that would last forever. I wanted parents who were divorced, deployed or traveling to be able to email a bedtime story to their children, narrated in their own voice. I hoped grandparents who lived near or far would be able to preserve their voices reading stories to their grandchildren. Mostly, I wanted to promote family connections and my own family’s love of reading.
Of course, as a former Head Start teacher, I knew the importance of reading aloud to children. Research is clear that oral reading is the number one factor predicting a child’s successful reading ability. Sharing books and a love of reading with children and grandchildren wouldn’t be just connecting families, it would be educational and instructive.
Ripple Reader recently adopted e-book technology. We’ve been able to keep our author’s books in exactly the same format as their original works, which pleases author and readers. We are also preserving the act of reading and literacy by offering the books in their original format, avoiding animation or games.
Publishing houses are jumping on board with Ripple. We are adding new and more popular e-books daily. We’re the only company with an e-book store and free e-book reader dedicated to picture books!
Surprisingly, now that we have implemented e-books, some amazing things are happening. First, kids want to record themselves reading the books, too. In fact, it’s so engaging I’m hearing from parents that they can’t get their kids to stop reading!
One mom told me how her kids work together to read, with the eight-year-old helping her five-year-old sister read the words into the microphone. I love hearing that kids are using Ripple to learn and grow as readers!
Another surprise is how much parents like the price point. Picture books are beautiful and wonderful and there’s no replacement for the books in your hands. But, as an additional way to own books, Ripple’s picture e-books are much less expensive: $5.99 as compared to $14.99. Parents tell me that it’s easier to buy more books for their kids when they’re at this price point.
Some common questions I get about Ripple:
Q: What is an e-book?
A: e-books are electronic books. Once you buy an e-book, you own it and keep it as a file on your computer. Ripple provides a free full-screen Reader to read our e-books.
Q: Will my kids be reading the books on the Internet?
A: No! Parents set up the child’s permanent bookshelf and in minutes download the books to any computer. Children open the Ripple Reader program; it’s not connected to the Internet. It’s an e-reader on the computer, just like the hand-held e-readers adults use, such as the Kindle or Nook.
Q: Can I send an e-book to a grandparent to record?
A: Yes -– as long as they have email and a microphone.
I love hearing the stories of families connecting and kids loving books on Ripple. We’re on the cutting edge of technology so I understand that part of our job is to educate parents and grandparents who are just now learning about e-books. E-books do not replace regular books. They are a fun and unique way to give kids another venue in which to read. And, frankly, some kids prefer them. Kids are on the computer -– reading!
DISCUSS: Would you use Ripple Reader with your kids?