MeeGenius Leads Crowded Field of Interactive E-book Apps for Kids
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offer more than simply digitizing the text from books. “Children don’t find that interesting,” she says.
MeeGenius’s catalog currently comprises more than 1,000 titles, which all include narration that readers can turn on and off as they read. Hoh says the narration needed to be more than a robotic, text-to-speech playback in order to help readers understand the material. “When you are a small child, you need to be read to in an engaging way,” she says. Prior to launching MeeGenius, Hoh spent nearly ten years on Wall Street in private equity and investment banking including as vice president of Pomona Capital. A mother of three, she says she wanted to make reading more interactive for children.
Other players in this sector are also trying novel ways to attract young readers to e-books. Scholastic’s Storia e-reading app for children offers a number of features including a dictionary that defines and pronounces words that kids highlight in the text. Select titles available through Storia also use word games, animation and other forms of interaction to keep kids interested. Parents can also track how many pages and how long their children read e-books through Storia.
MeeGenius works with undisclosed book publishers as well as independent authors of children’s titles. The company also connects independent authors with editors and illustrators to help them complete the finishing touches for the e-books. Hoh says MeeGenius launched its app—on the same day the original iPad hit the market—with self-produced titles in order to get the ball rolling. Now more than 800 schools in the U.S. and Canada use the MeeGenius app as a library tool, she says. All titles are reviewed, she says, by an editor before being made available for purchase.
New features to improve reading comprehension are in the works, according to Hoh. These may include interactive questions about the characters in the titles. The goal is to get kids more involved in the story to increase their desire to learn.
Hoh would not give more details, but she expects to release upgrades to the app later this year. Thus far she believes the features her company offers have not been duplicated by some larger rivals. “If you go on Amazon right now, you’re not going to find an e-book that has narration and word highlighting,” Hoh says. “On MeeGenius, that’s a basic requirement.”