ABCs of the Web
Two dads, a pediatrician and a web designer, write a charming, age-appropriate book to instill an early love of code for kids under 5
ABCs of the Web
Two dads, a pediatrician and a web designer, write a charming, age-appropriate book to instill an early love of code for kids under 5
As seen in:
Help support our Kickstarter so we can:
Celebrate diversity in the coding community!
Teach kids to love code and each other
Learn about the web while geeking out with our infants and toddlers!
What is "ABCs of the Web"?
ABCs of the Web is a child's first introduction to the language of the web using the ABCs, beautiful imagery, and fun rhymes. Written by a Web Developer (John) and a Pediatrician (Andrey), this book introduces children under 5 to the vocabulary of programming in a developmentally appropriate way.
Why did we create ABCs of the Web?
Reason # 1: There is no age-appropriate computer science "first reader" available for our little kids.
While training in residency, I was mentored by developmental experts like Dr. Richard Ferber (Ferber Method) and Dr. T Berry Brazelton (Touchpoints). In my training and practice as a pediatrician, I learned that children acquire knowledge differently at different ages.
A quick Google or Kickstarter search will reveal several really neat eBooks, apps, and games that are appropriate for older children. But no materials exist to teach pre-reading age children about programming, mostly because the brains of most children under 5 aren't ready to learn programming.
(pardon the jargon that follows) To program, the child's brain needs to be developed enough to understand cause-effect relationships, serial ordering, quantity conservation and hierarchical classification. Although children under 5 exhibit the beginnings of these capacities, they first need to learn to identify objects before performing operations with them.
That's why we designed ABCs of the Web to allow children to learn at the right level.
ABCs of the Web reinforces object permanence with its physical quality of turning pages. The motor task of turning pages also stimulates proprioceptive memory for infants and toddlers that are learning their physical environment.
We also choose to make this book as a paper book rather than an e-reader because there isn't much benefit to learning to read from the screen as opposed to in print.
Additionally, the timing of alliteration and repetition provides an auditory stimulus that is musically rewarding and reigns in the 10 second attention of small children.
The basic use of letters as symbols represents the essential words of web development. To ensure the right level of visual engagement, the book achieves just the right balance of color contrast. We avoided water colors and blurred edges, which may seem gentle and warm to adults but are actually hard to see for babies.
The anatomically appropriate feature ratios appeal to the egocentrism that develops in toddlers as they begin to look at the world as if they were the center of it.
Although this book could have taken many forms, we choose to do an ABC book to give our little children a leg up on reading tests for school advancement.
It is not comprehensive, but the ABCs of the Web offers 26 building blocks that will serve as the starting point for your child's programming lexicon and eventual foundation for their ability to learn computational thinking.
Reason # 2 for creating ABCs of the Web: Pediatricians may be hurting their patients' chances of getting a job in tech.
I feel frustrated and guilty as a pediatrician because I offer my patients conflicting advice. Pediatric guidelines recommend that parents limit their children's exposure to screen time (TV, computer, video games) because of its risk for contributing to a sedentary lifestyle and subsequent obesity, diabetes, and hearth disease.
However, screentime is inevitable when nurturing children's Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. With the US being one of the worst among developed countries in STEM education, limiting screentime can limit children's opportunity to learn and excel in computer science, which is one of the fastest growing and highest paying job opportunities.
My dilemma as a pediatrician and child advocate is further exacerbated because I provide care for a predominantly urban underserved population which already experiences a huge disparity in access to STEM education.
ABCs of the Web allows me as a pediatrician to support early reading development AND give my patients a jump start in STEM education and maybe a chance to live better lives than their parents.
What's the funding for?
It's difficult to compete with the big names in children's publishing. And we need to fulfill a minimum order to keep the cost of book production affordable. By pledging for our book, you will make it possible for us to support the the minimum-required bulk print run.
By purchasing in bulk, we will also be able to keep costs sufficiently low so that families with limited disposable income can afford to purchase the book for their kids.
For families that can't afford the book, we have partnered with organizations like the Boston University Community Service Center to help distribute the books at no cost to families in need.
If you help us surpass our funding goal to print the books in English, we will be able to broaden our impact to other children by translating the hardcover book to Spanish, Haitian-creole, and Mandarin. More languages to come if we are able to meet our stretch goals.
Do I have to be a computer engineer to read this book to my child?
Not at all! If you know your ABCs, then you will have fun breezing through the book with no problem.
Having said, we designed ABCs of the Web with multiple layers of tech vocabulary so that most parents will find at least some of the terms unfamiliar. We created a wide range of vocabulary difficulty levels because learning to read and code is a team sport. When learning is active, it is more effective and more fun. This applies to both children and their parents. When parents model the process of Googling terms they don't know, children also learn the valuable skill of simple problem solving.
Also, the illustrations support multiple representations of the core meaning for each term so that parents and children can form several associations between the letter, the term, and its meaning.
Through active learning, ABCs of the Web is a fun learning experience that will keep the whole family engaged.
G is for GRATEFUL ($5)
Our deepest appreciation for your support. Every dollar helps bring our book in to existence. Receive exclusive backer updates about our Kickstarter and the impact the book is having. Get the inside story on how the book is coming along.
We really appreciate your $5 pledge. $5 x a lot of people = that much closer to publishing our book!
A is for ABCs of the WEB ($20)
Receive your very own hardcover ABCs of the Web! Limited-edition, first release. Great for parents that want to invest in your child's future in a tech-filled world.
It's a sturdy hardcover that's easy to hold with your little one. And it handles drool pretty well too! And don't forget, pass your finger along the words as you read them so your child can start to associate the sound of the words with the sight of the letters!
B is for BLOOPERS ($30)
Blooper video + hardcover book. Online access to hilarious outtakes from our families shooting the Kickstarter video. Personal glimpse into the shenanigans that went on behind the scenes of this video.
We had a lot of fun filming the kickstarter video. It was four hours of corralling the kids, the dog, and the dads. Fortunately, the mom's and our friend Mark Denega, the videographer, were able to focus our attention just enough to get the two minutes we needed. The other 3 hours and 58 minutes that we spent shooting and laughing are summarized in your very own blooper video for pledging $30. Here's a flavor of the silliness that you'll get access to:
S is for SIGNED ABCs of the Web ($45)
Autographed hardcover book. Limited-edition first release ABCs of the Web book lovingly hand autographed by both authors. Includes blooper video.
Right next to the dedication to our little boys on the inside cover, we will personally sign your book to extend our gratitude for your pledge of $45. This is a great way to make preschool age (>4yo) kids feel really special getting an autographed present. Also great gift for grown ups that can appreciate rare, high-quality, one-of-a-kind gifts. Bring a copy of ABCs of the Web, a bottle of wine, and get ready to have the hippest dinner party conversation starter.
P is for PERSONALIZED MESSAGE ($60)
Consider gifting a custom dedicated ABCs of the Web to your friends and family with infants or small children. We will hand sign the book with a short message of your choosing.* If you can't think of what to say in the dedication, we can make up a rhyme for you!
We will also give you access to a custom-dedicated link to the online blooper video so you can accompany your generous gift of the print book with a digital link to the bloopers.
If you have your own kids, show your love by dedicating a book to your little coders. And if you're feeling really romantic for Valentine's Day, nothing says love for your significant other like a kids book about coding! (you should probably get flowers as back up just in case)
We will collect your dedication request via the Kickstarter messaging platform after our Kickstarter campaign is complete.
*limit 140 characters.
Q is for QUINTUPLETS ($150)
5 limited-edition first release ABCs of the Web books lovingly hand signed by both authors including online access to the blooper video. Includes bloopers. Have friends with multiple children? Have nieces, nephews, or grandchildren? Also a great way to make your clients and patients feel appreciated.
T is for TEACHER'S EDITION ($180)
10 hardcovers books (not autographed) Includes bloopers. Great for teaching your kindergarteners or your college students programming 101. If you're a teacher and don't have the budget to afford the books: please contact us and we'll work something out to make the books affordable.
F is for FINGER PAINT ($250)
Limited-edition single release ABCs of the Web hardcover book with a custom dedication. Personally written* finger-paint thank you message from our kids Jack (4) and Gray (2), the inspiration for the book! This collectors edition is great to show off in your office's waiting room or lobby, or on your coffee table at home. Includes bloopers. (*Legibility not guaranteed. Very limited edition because little fingers get tired quickly)
W is for WEBSITE CAMEO ($400)
Finger-painted thank-you in a hardcover book AND one month as an illustrated hero cameo on our website/facebook. The cameo will also feature the letter of the alphabet dedicated to your name! Awesome way to show your support for technology education!
D is for DINNER in NYC with the Authors ($2000)
Dinner with the authors in NYC. Learn the story behind what inspired the book. And let us thank you for your generosity and contribution to teaching technology to children. We'd love to discuss our thoughts on the future of education, innovation, and kids! Also receive a finger-painted hardcover book signed by our kids. (travel not included)
P is for PICNIC in NYC with the Families ($4000)
Picnic in central park with the authors, wives, and children + finger-painted hardcover book. Meet the rugrats that inspired the book & bring your own family! Let's grill! (travel not included)
C is for Chief Disruptor ($5000)
Dinner in DC with us and Bryan Sivak, the Chief Technical Officer of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)! Great if you want to pick the brain of the man behind the biggest big data movement in US history. Bryan inspired me to think more broadly about disrupting health through tech. What better way than to build a generation of hackers nurtured by tech since birth?! Bryan Sivak also inspired me in my work as a digital health entrepreneur. And I'm sure he'll inspire you about the opportunities that develop when entrepreneurs are infused into the federal government. Includes finger-painted hardcover book. (travel not included)
H for HIP-HOP LEGEND Akrobatik ($5000)
Dinner in Boston with us and Akrobatik. My friend and musical inspiration, rapper Akrobatik, is featured in this brief clip with multi-platinum recording artist Nas as they discuss Harvard's upcoming Rap Fellowship.
Ak has mentored us about his experience with urban youth and the challenges that our book can help solve by bridging the tech and literacy gap.
If you want to know why I respect Ak so much and why you should pledge $5,000 to have dinner with us and Akrobatik, fast forward to 2 min into the clip to hear man behind the music. Includes finger-painted hardcover book. (travel not included)
K is for KARMALOOP ($5000)
Some people become doctors to make a dent in the world. Other people actually make a dent in the world, like Greg Selkoe. Greg makes unique use of his Masters degree from Harvard to impact society. His influence is through the most potent media: music, film, and fashion. A man after our own hearts, Greg embraces technology, innovation, and defying the status quo. Want to rub shoulders with the likes of Greg and his high-power friends in fashion? Pledge $5000, and you'll get a chance to dine with us and the Verge culture design guru himself. Includes finger-painted hardcover book. (Travel not included)
We thank you so much for your support!
-The Ostrovsky and Vanden-Heuvel families
Risks and challenges
If we were to be 100% developmentally appropriate, we would have made this book in the form of cardboard pages or even cloth pages for the babies. However, cost is a reality and we want this book to have a price point that is accessible to families that can't afford a $40 book. So, we brushed perfection aside and instead were pragmatic so we could achieve the goal of spreading this learning experience to families with less disposable income. The pages may be paper, but its a hardcover that can take a good drooling!
Regarding execution: John has sold over 18,000 of his Code Babies books. Just check out his following on Facebook. He's excellent at executing the publishing process for a kids book.
Dr. Ostrovsky has successfully operated a digital health startup over the past 2.5 years managing a team of 5 developers and designers to build technology from the ground up that prevents dozens of people each month from going to the hospital. Furthermore, Dr. Ostrovsky is routinely entrusted with life and death decisions for his patients when he is working at the hospital. If he can overcome the challenges of saving a baby, he can make a book.
So both John and Andrey know how to deliver on a promise. And we thank you so much for your support in helping us to fulfill our vision for helping our children to learn to love code!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)