Julie Landry Laviolette, mom of a 9- and 11-year-old and a longtime journalist, created Story Bayou, a series of storybook apps that kids can read on smartphones, the iPod Touch and tablets, like the iPad.
The first book app, Brush of Truth, is geared to third- through sixth-graders. The app is $1.99 and available on the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android and Windows 7 mobile devices.
“If you look at the app market, there is not much in the way of reading material for this age group,” said Laviolette, a Cooper City resident. “The interactive nature of Story Bayou not only gets kids to read, it engages them by allowing them to choose how the action unfolds in each story. As a mom, I look for tools that will help my kids become lifelong readers. It makes sense to harness the technology they love and offer books in a format they are comfortable using.”
Story Bayou (a play on “Story By You”) engages elementary- and middle-school age children in a literary journey by putting the reader in the driver’s seat and casting them as the main character.
The stories, written in second person, allow kids to choose how the action unfolds during critical points in each tale. Users click on one path to go in one direction; they click on another to read something entirely new. Multiple paths and endings add suspense to the stories, always with the option of returning to the beginning and starting over. Illustrations also help bring the stories to life.
“Kids love the idea because they love being in charge,” Laviolette said. “Parents love the concept because they can hand their smartphone to the child and the child can be reading instead of playing another video game.”
Story Bayou’s first release, Brush of Truth, introduces a medieval sorceror’s magic paintbrush that’s discovered in modern time by two tweens.
With 65 decision points and 20 possible endings, Brush of Truth leads the kids on adventures under the sea, in floating graveyards and inside sand castles, among others, as they discover the brush’s powers.
Story Bayou partnered with Linxter, Inc., a software development company headquartered in Cooper City, Fl., to create the mobile app.
“This generation of children has grown up learning through technology,”
Laviolette is a former columnist and community news editor for The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans. As a South Florida resident, she now contributes regularly to The Miami Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, MomsMiami.com, South Florida Parenting and more than 30 regional parenting publications in the United States and Canada. Brush of Truth is her first work of fiction.
Story Bayou came about when Laviolette was looking for a new project, something to keep her busy in the midst of the shrinking field of media work. At her son’s fifth-grade graduation luncheon, she began chatting with one of the dads, who turned out to be Jason Milgram of Linxter, Inc., a software development company looking for new ideas. The two talked as the dishes were cleared, and the rest is history.
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Julie Landry Laviolette
CEO, Story Bayou
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Interactive book apps for tweens ages 8 to 12. You call the shots in our interactive adventures, written in "your" voice.