Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Skeleton Creek & 3:15 Stories: Blending Technology and Books

It's no secret that technology plays a much bigger role in our universe than ever before, and books compete with video games, computers and the Internet for kids' attention. One author, however has come up with a brilliant and innovative idea for attracting kids to books by creating multimedia concepts that combine technology and reading. The first series is Skeleton Creek- a four-book horror series aimed at tween/teen readers. The books come packaged in a slip-case resembling a VHS tape (for those of you who remember what they look like) and the book itself looks like a composition notebook, and takes a diary format. When the story begins, Ryan, the author of the diary, is stuck in bed after some kind of accident, but his memories of exactly what happened to he and his best friend Sarah are fuzzy. All he knows is that whatever happened, his parents have forbidden him and Sarah to communicate, and he's being watched like

 a hawk. Something strange is happening in Skeleton Creek, and they are determined to get to the bottom of it. While Ryan records everything in his journal, Sarah uses her video-camera to uncover clues, and then secretly sends Ryan links to a password-protected website where she posts her videos. At varying intervals in the book, readers are given a new password to unlock a video on Sarah's website where more clues to the mystery are revealed. The books are creepy scary, and the videos are eerily real. Reluctant readers are eating these up, and the web-content makes them particuarly attractive.

The new series, 3:15 Stories takes the interactive element one step further, and are first being released as  *gasp!* smartphone/iPhone apps, with a book to follow in the fall. 3 is for the three components of the stories, and 15 is the number of minutes it will take you to read the story. When you download the story, first you listen to a brief introduction from narrator Paul Chandler. Next you read the story,and there is a secret message embedded in the story text. Lastly, you watch the video that gives you the solution to the story. The key here is that the components all work together. When Scholastic releases the stories in book format, like Skeleton Creek, they will include that same interactive component. The videos are pretty spooky, so be warned- neither series is for the faint of heart!

The first story is available to download for free on the website- http://315stories.com/ and subsequent stories, (which are releasing every two weeks) are 99 cents. There is also a place on the website where kids can log in and share thoughts and comments with other readers.

Patrick Carman fully believes that we can and should be using technology to get kids reading, and with his multimedia storytelling, he has done just that.