Grandparents read stories to their grandchildren when they were young, eventually becoming a bedtime ritual for children. Moreover, while reading, they often added a fun element to the mix. Being a constructive learning process and reading has become a favourite pastime for both children and grandparents.
In these contemporary times, many things in our lives have changed since the onset of technology. Physical books are now replaced with e-books, and grandparents no longer compel children. They could have the e-book read them aloud to them. However, it devolved into a dull book, depriving the reader of storytelling’s engaging and entertaining aspect.
Dorka Horváth, CEO & Founder of BOOKR Kids, absorbed the same thought and recreated the same storytelling format, adding a fun element of beautiful literature to go along with it.
Let’s turn around the pages into innovative storytelling, below are the highlights of their story
Please walk us through your inception story of the prestigious organization and how the application was brought into existence.
I come from a publishing family, so books have always had a special place in my heart. Books are my happy place, where I can disappear from daily routines or problems and immerse myself in the story. But the world is changing, and younger generations need different content to engage in reading. In 2015, I realized that although the e-book market was growing rapidly, these e-books weren’t utilizing the new technological advances. So, joining forces with my husband and using our background in publishing, new media, and advertising, we decided to create something revolutionary. With BOOKR, we launched an innovative solution to connect beautiful literature and engaging digital books with animation and narration to develop the love of reading among children.
Exciting research in 2018 proved that BOOKR Kids’ unique format held children’s attention for an unusually long period. So, this is where we decided to dedicate this unique know-how we developed to education. How about using this knowledge to improve reading skills and help children learn a second language? So, a new product was born – called BOOKR Class – with books and games in English that children enjoy while English teachers monitor their performance.
Our apps now inspire more than 500000 children to read and learn in countries like the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Germany, Singapore, South Korea, and many more.
Tell us about the organization’s mission, vision, and core values.
We believe in the power of education. So, we are on a mission to make kids read again. As the leading digital publisher and ed-tech company in Europe, we support schools, teachers, and parents with an award-winning English teaching app, BOOKR Class. The app is part of the national curriculum in Hungary and includes 1000+ animated storybooks and games with classics and original content.
We provide enjoyable learning and reading time for children who are learning English as a foreign language.
Kindly brief us about the featured person and their contribution to the application’s success.
I founded the company in 2015 with my husband. That was a real journey for us. We started from zero and now have more the 40 full-time employees and 2m USD yearly revenue. I also finished my PhD, researched children’s changing reading habits in the digital world, and wrote my thesis on our book format in the meantime.
What are the course objectives and expected learning outcomes that the application focuses on for students’ future?
BOOKR Class is primarily an English language learning application. Students will gain a broad vocabulary and strong reading skills with us. While they’re enjoying reading our books, our content and scaffolding multimedia environment supports the acquisition of useful expressions and phrases they can use in everyday situations. The app includes books and games to improve grammar, vocabulary, listening, reading comprehension, and even pronunciation with AI voice recognition. When listening to a story, the affective filter gets low, which results in increased self-confidence and the desire to explore, learn, and even take a few risks. Secondary outcomes are higher resilience, emotional intelligence, and openness to the world, other cultures, and people.
What are the unique courses and academic initiatives introduced in the application to help students learn better with machine learning?
BOOKR Class has a built-in system that personalizes the learning experience with a recommendation system, paying attention to the user’s interests and preferences based on past activities.
In the meantime, children can also pick topics that interest them when registering, giving the system the first push to show them books they will most likely enjoy.
Not only that, but it matches their level, too: with the help of a Lexile placement test that they fill out, the system can direct them to a specific level so that the material is not too hard, not too easy.
When finishing a book, the system also recommends new readings and related flashcards to continue the learning process.
To improve speaking skills and pronunciation, BOOKR Class has a built-in voice recognition feature that gives immediate feedback on students’ pronunciation and allows them to try as many times as they want.
How do you provide global educational exposure to your students as part of a system where there are no boundaries?
In the application, as well as on our social media channels and blog, we organize global competitions and challenges to give educators and students a sense of community and opportunities to try themselves – and for the fun of it, while practising English without even noticing.
When adding stories to our digital library, we keep in mind cross-cultural education and aim to provide a good balance of global content and local specialities – including folk tales from around the world, diverse characters, and licensing books from international publishing houses. It all opens a new world to discover for the little ones, learning about different cultures, geography, and history.
Of course, mastering English and other materials is not our only hope for our users when reading our books: we aim to nurture individuals with strong 21st-century skills such as social-emotional development, problem-solving and critical thinking. Moreover, fostering an acute awareness of global challenges such as global warming, deforestation, and endangered wildlife education cannot miss from the topics our users meet in the app while engaging children in sustainable lifestyles with our content.
We also find it essential to create a safe space for educators. Thus, we began a global teacher community on social media where teachers are free to share their experiences and best practices. We encourage them to learn from one another and to give each other a window into other countries’ educational structures and challenges. Global online training and webinar sessions also create a great platform to do so.
How do you help your students prepare for their future? What kind of special features/initiatives have you launched for the same?
In this ever-changing world, students need to have a wide range of life skills to meet the challenges that come their way. Drastic economic changes and technological transformations have changed the world around us, making it key to improve skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and social-emotional skills.
Since we can utilize the power of stories, it was pretty evident from the beginning that we’re not only aiming for language skills and literacy development but also dealing with sensitive topics. The BOOKR Class app features a variety of books to help students develop life, career, and social-emotional skills. Non-fiction stories about teamwork, everyday problems, or relationships with others are a foundation for learning how to resolve challenges more effectively and build personal and professional relationships.
Please mention your company’s most notable achievements, accolades, and awards.
I’m proud that 98% of children love learning with us, according to representative research involving 2020 kids, and their reading comprehension improved by 20%. In addition, we help to teach more than 150,000 children entertainingly in 17 countries.
We are honoured to have received the most prestigious educational technology awards, such as Education Alliance Finland certification (excellent pedagogical approach, 96%), GESS Education Awards winner, and Edtech Breakthrough Award.
How do you envision the future of your prestigious organization going forward?
BOOKR will be at the forefront of making high-quality, story-driven digital language learning curricula accessible for students aged 4-12 globally. An even brighter, AI-driven, gamified approach will enrich the learning experience even more in the future as we constantly analyze and follow user needs and motivations and work on perfecting BOOKR Class, one feature and story at a time.