New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

StarWalk Kids Media Provides Quality eBooks for Public Libraries

By: Liz Nealon

Award-winning children’s author Seymour Simon has always been a trendsetter. His full-color, photo essay science books for elementary-aged kids were among the first and most sophisticated for that age group, and they continue to be extremely popular today. So it’s not surprising that when Simon decided that he wanted to get into the eBook business, he did it in a big way. Or as he puts it, “I wanted my eBooks to be on the best possible platform, so I built it!”

As Seymour’s partner I brought my own children’s media background as a television producer and former Creative Director of Sesame Street to the mix. Together, we’ve built StarWalk Kids Media, a streaming collection that School Library Journal described as “…gorgeously designed pre-K through grade 8 eBooks…Tightly curated for exceptional quality.”

From the moment that we laid eyes on the original iPad back in 2010, it was clear that we were at the beginning of a profound digital shift in children’s reading habits, and that there was going to be a need for high quality, literary, children’s eBooks for both public and school libraries. Three years later, the StarWalk Kids Media collection includes more than 160 children’s titles (growing to 400 by the end of the year), most with professional narration and stunning, full-color illustrations. Our list includes not only many books from Seymour Simon, but also popular titles from other fine authors whose names you will recognize—Johanna Hurwitz, Diane deGroat, Emily Arnold McCully, Doreen Rappaport, Kathryn Lasky, David Adler, Hudson Talbott and Laura Vaccaro Seeger, to name a few.

One of the things librarians tell us they love about our collection is that in addition to our fine original books, we have been able to reclaim treasured books that have gone out of print and design/update them especially for digital editions. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a book like Seymour Simon’s SATURN is not only available again, but it has new photographs and up-to-date information about the gas giant planet.

We’ve also designed a product that eliminates the practical challenges that face libraries, providing a highly economical way for librarians to expand their collections and stretch their eBook budgets without requiring a long-term commitment. Through our annual subscription, StarWalk Kids provides streaming access to any authorized user with a computer, Flash-enabled tablet, or iPad with an Internet connection (via IP Authentication, no special technology or passwords required), and we allow multiple users to access the same book at the same time. Because really, what is the point of telling a child that she needs to wait two weeks to read an eBook that she is excited about right now? We have listened to you talk about the challenges facing libraries, and we have done our best to build a product that meets your needs.

We know that not every library is prepared to acquire eBooks via an annual subscription, and that some prefer a download model that confers perpetual access of selected titles. With that in mind, all our eBooks may be acquired as single titles from Follett, OverDrive and most other institutional distributors.

To learn more, visit www.StarWalkKids.com, or follow us on Twitter (@StarWalkKids) and Facebook.

Author Liz Nealon led the creative development of the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning SesameStreet.org in her former role as EVP/Creative Director of "Sesame Street." In addition to her current position as Publisher and CEO of StarWalk Kids Media, Nealon is the Managing Editor of SeymourSimon.com, which has been designated one of ALA’s “Great Websites for Kids,” and is a Webby Honoree. Nealon was also the creator and Executive Producer of the landmark PBS children’s literacy series "Ghostwriter."