By Dennis Abrams
Brightly is a new online resource developed by Penguin Random House to help parents find books that will encourage their children to become lifelong readers.
Brightly was co-founded by “book lovers and moms,” Amanda Close and Christine McNamara, who in the course of their book-publishing careers, realized that there was an appetite for more lifestyle content for parents centered around children and reading. They started Brightly to provide other busy parents with both inspiration and guidance in creating a reading life for their families in a space where too many resources are academic in scope.
The site, dedicated to reading, shares book recommendations from across the children’s publishing world for every age and stage, along with reading tips and insights, special author and illustrator content, seasonal activities, and much more. Brightly makes this information accessible on social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
The new program features a website, email newsletter, and expanded content offering inspired by positive feedback from readers of after they engaged with the beta version of the site, which debuted in October 2014.
“As a lifelong book lover, I want to share my interest and passion with my family, especially with my son, but as a working mom, I’ve seen firsthand how our busy lifestyle can make this a challenge,” said Close, Senior Vice President, Consumer Marketing Development at Penguin Random House, in a statement.
Brightly’s editorial direction is led by Liz Kotin, formerly of DisneyBaby.com. Kotin brings together some of today’s best voices currently covering reading and parenting on the Web, in order to create a dedicated resource for families that offers inspiration and ideas around reading. Parents can expect to find age-specific content, news about books and authors, as well as articles on broader topics like reading aloud to big kids, diverse books, questions to ask librarians, understanding the Common Core, and book recommendations for grown-ups.
“Brightly is like your fun, friendly, and well-informed kid-lit pal,” said Kotin in a statement. “Our focus is on celebrating and embracing different kinds of readers, kids, and interests. Brightly gives parents insights into which books and authors their children might get excited about and what activities might enhance a family’s experience of reading.”
Christine McNamara, Penguin Random House’s Vice President and Director of Partnerships added, “We estimate that there are more than a quarter of a million children’s book on the market, so finding the right book for the right child at the right time can be challenging. Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with a fantastic local bookstore or librarian to guide them. I wanted help navigating those stacks and we’re finding that other parents do, too. Hopefully, Brightly will help provide that for us.”
And in a statement to Publishing Perspectives, Amanda Close told us that:
“Igniting a passion for reading at a young age is an important investment in every child’s development, and at the heart of our mission at Penguin Random House. We at Brightly aspire to fill a gap in lifestyle content for parents who want to raise readers.
“Penguin Random House research and third-party sources validate that parents want to know their kids are reading appropriate books and want to feel confident about the books they buy for their children. We also learned that parents are pressed for time and want something that’s reliable and easy to use to find what they are looking for when it comes to children’s books. We hope Brightly makes it a little easier, and a lot more fun, for parents to raise children who love to read.
“The site was designed with today’s busy parents in mind. Brightly is optimized for mobile and also reaches parents on the social channels they frequent. We’re already seeing articles being shared on social media and content has sparked online discussion on topics such as reading aloud to children and book recommendations for tweens.
“Brightly will allow us to better engage with parents and develop a relationship with them throughout their family’s reading life. Our emphasis on fun and inspirational age-specific content, social media community, and future plans for personalization will help us achieve these goals.”
Christine McNamara added, “We plan to introduce a preference center that will allow newsletter subscribers to receive content based on their interests and a child’s age and stage. We’re also growing our contributor base and developing more articles that celebrate all kinds of readers and families.”