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BinoBooks raising funds for first customizable e-storybook to make complex topics understandable

Humans can’t fly but they can… book cover – Photo by BinoBooks

After BinoBooks placed first at the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation (DDQIC) 2020 Summer Pitch Competition, the local e-book design team has evolved. The venture now creates customized, personalized e-storybooks on complex topics that facilitate conversations between parents and young children. 

The first book from the venture was introduced with a soft launch on Kickstarter on December 4, 2021, along with a fundraiser, and it will run until January 4, 2022, raising funds for the main launch event in January 2022. 

The goal is to collect $5000 in 31 days to support a different aspect of book development, according to organizers. BinoBooks is working with a team of Computer Science students at Queen’s who are helping build out the technological part of the project.

“The goal is that a parent can come to our website www.binobooks.ca and build a character, similar to BitEmoji or Mii, that represents their child, then receive a book with the feeling they inbuilt,“ said Danielle Baxter, a recent Queen’s University graduate and CEO & Co-Founder of BinoBooks.

The first book, “Humans Can’t Fly, But They Can…“ is also set up as a reward for the Kickstarter Campaign, along with other rewards such as hard-copy stickers of the animals from the book. The book is also a great ideal holiday gift for children. 

The main character in this book finds themselves on a school trip to the zoo. As they visit the different animals – a bold peacock, a sleepy sloth, a fast tiger, and more – they come to realize what makes their body special instead of focusing on how their bodies look. Parents can personalize the character’s name, pronouns, and appearance to represent their child in this storybook. There are also discussion questions to help guide parents and their children through this challenging but essential conversation.

“If we meet our goal of $5K before January 4, 2022, the funding from this campaign will go towards illustrating and writing our next customizable storybook, [as well as] building out our customization technology, “ said Baxter.

BinoBooks also plans to develop an extensive book library, create more customizations, offer books in different languages, and more.

“We have continued to focus our storybooks on difficult topics, with our first book on the market being on body image. As well, we continued with the personalization aspect, as the main character can be customized from the options of 8 different skin tones, eight hairstyles, four hair colours, four eye colours, and two pairs of glasses,“ said Baxter.

However, Baxter also explained that being an early-stage startup, they can’t represent all children at this time, though that’s their vision and ultimate goal. 

For illustrations, BinoBooks have Devika Oza on their team. Oza was born and raised in Kolkata, India and is a senior design graduate from Seneca College. Oza is exceptionally skilled in children’s books, drawing, concept art, and book covers.

“Growing up in India, we hardly got to read books with people that looked like us,“ said Oza. “I believe it is extremely important for children to grow up reading stories that they can relate to. Illustrating this book for Binobooks allowed me to give that opportunity to children today.“  

“We truly are obsessed with her art,“ added Baxter. 

Oza expressed excitement working with BinoBooks and also expects to work with them in the future. 

In 2020, the prototype by BinoBooks was a book on COVID-19 and its health aspects for children to understand. While making that book and after, the team consulted comprehensively with parents and topic experts for each book to make it as representative as possible for children.

The team at BinoBooks includes Danielle Baxter, Sydney Terry, Samantha Dassa, Devika Oza, Ayush Agarwal, and a group of Queen’s University student software developers.

Learn more about BinoBooks on their website.

Ted Hsu for MPP
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