Wednesday, March 2, 2011
The man behind Dr. Seuss, Theodor Geisel, would be 107 years old today. Now, his legacy of more than 40 children's books is going digital.
SAN DIEGO Wednesday marks the 107th birthday of the man behind Dr. Seuss. Theodor Geisel, who called San Diego home, died two decades ago. However, times have certainly changed for his young readers. Dr. Seuss is now going digital.
Michel Kripalani is the man behind the new Dr. Seuss mobile apps.
His Encinitas-based company, Oceanhouse Media, won the rights to digitally publish Dr. Seuss stories about a year ago for smart phones. His team has developed 20 book apps so far.
Kripalani said it all started about a year ago with How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
“Grinch went really, really, really well,” he said. “We were off and running.”
A couple weeks later, Apple CEO Steve Jobs went on stage and announced the iPad. Kripilani said work orders began coming in “like a waterfall gushing.”
Mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad are revolutionizing children’s literature.
Some of the top selling apps for these mobile devices are geared toward children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old.
Kripalani said Seuss apps focus on building reading skills.
“A big part of what we want to do is stay true to the original Dr. Seuss books,” he said. “We don’t colorize the pages, and we don’t deviate from what the original intent was.”
So just how do these programs work?
Kripalani gave a quick lesson: He tapped his finger on the screen to zoom in and out of the whimsical illustrations. Each word is highlighted as the story moves along.
Of course, the real test came when the app was in the hands of a child.
Four-year-old Karolina Decker is a big Cat In the Hat fan.
Her mom, Malin Decker, sat down next to her with an iPhone in hand.
Together they scrolled through The Sneetches and Other Stories, a Dr. Seuss classic.
Karolina’s face lit-up when she saw little yellow creatures with stars on their bellies. She read along and used her little index finger to get through the story.
“She’s very easy in the motion, scrolling through (the pages),” Karolina’s mother said. “She likes playing with my phone, not just the apps, but she loves to look at pictures.”
Parents commonly use these apps to keep their kids busy in a grocery store, during a car ride or conversation.
They’re also cheap. A Dr. Seuss hardback might cost $15 in a bookstore. On the iPhone, it is about $3. Some are 99 cents.
Even so, Decker said she would never replace her daughter’s Dr. Seuss books.
That’s a sentiment that makes Dr. Seuss executives happy.
“Our foundation are these books,” said Susan Brandt, president of licensing and marketing for the Dr. Seuss Enterprise in La Jolla. “There will be so many choices for how to present stories and characters to kids. But I do believe there will be classic books that you'll always want to have in your house.”
Kripalani, the developer of Dr. Seuss apps, said these programs are an extension of the classics. He thinks Ted Geisel would be proud.
“We always start with the question of ‘What would Ted do?’” he said. “We like to believe he would love them.”
Just a couple of weeks ago, Kripalani’s Oceanhouse Media announced the sale of their 1-millionth Dr. Seuss app.