Ah! Finally! Launch day....
The goal of ITV Signed Stories, http://www.signedstories.com/, is to help improve the literacy of deaf children.
The site is fun, colourful and interactive for children of all ages (click the cat on the home page flash movie - that was my sole graphical suggestion ;) ), but also provides information and a place to chat (forums coming very soon) for parent, carerers and teachers.
The fun stuff in the site is each of the world under which you can find the initial set of 21 children's books (Word is they ITV will be adding at least one new book a week). Each flash world helps visitors to the site find books that interest them the most. The worlds are "Adventure", "Baby and Toddler", "Fairytales and Folktales", "Funny", "Slimy Scary" and "Families and Friendships". Books within each world are displayed by relevancy to that world. ie. In Slimy Scary, the more slimy and scary the books are rated the bigger and the closer to the middle of the book cloud they will be displayed.
Within each world there is a book tree that allow you to change the order of the books by difficulty. Clicking on the branches rearrange the books to bring the most relevant books for that difficulty level to the front.
Clicking on a book will bring up a short, signed, preview of the selected book. Clicking on the GO button will bring up a signed animated video of the selected book.
Books on the site are from authors such as Michael Rosen, the Children's Laureate, Jez Alborough, and Julia Donaldson. People in the UK will know at least a few of the people reading the books, for example Kevin Whatley and Emila Fox. The animation is created by the likes of King Rollo Films. Last, but not least, the books are signed by Natalie Pollard, Khalid Ashraf and Denise Armstrong. Mary Briggs, co-founder of Seven Stories, is also a consultant on the project.
That's quite a role call to stand up to, but Scott Tyrell, the designer on the project, has had a lot of fun and done a superb of designing and animating the various Book Theme worlds. The Book Tree and the Book Cloud presented us with some interesting technical issues, particularly with book relevancy and the book cloud, but Simon Forster and Peter Gledhill have worked tirelessly to produce a very slick interface. Mariana Stoffin has done some great work putting together a lot of the CSS and functionality in the rest of the content driven site. I've had some fun putting together some Model Glue Unity applications and remote services, with ColdSpring and Transfer-ORM, as well as some JQuery stuff. Of course, we wouldn't have got to where we did without our task master, Nicole Hardy, keeping us on track. ;)
The site's goal, as I said before, is to improve literacy of deaf children, but the books that are on there so far are so good that I've already been showing them to my 2 year old son (2 years just after Xmas! Where has the time gone!!) and he loves them. James' vocab and stringing sentences together is really starting to kick at the minute and shouts "Coming!" excitedly when he sees the swirl while a world or book video is being loaded.
Well.... I think that's enough of me gushing about the site!!! I know I'm biased, but I love it! I hope you all do too!
Please take a look and enjoy! Signed Stories : http://www.signedstories.com
Now maybe I'll get back to some blog reading and my round-ups ;)