Lookio Books Update

Last night we sent out the following letter to our Kickstarter backers. We’re posting it here too, so all who have supported us can read what’s happened. Thank you to all who purchased our books! We loved making them for you.

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We are very, very sad to share the news that Lookio is longer able to make books and we must close our doors. We had a great run and truly enjoyed the last three years working on this project. Just to share the full story if you’re interested, here’s what happened:

Last October/November Lookio was starting to gather some nice steam and we were excited that orders were coming in at a steady clip. It felt like all the hard work was starting to pay off and we were excited about what the future held. In fact, we even invested a good deal of time and money in website improvements and were working on a few new book titles to offer.

We began running low on the special hardcovers that we use, so we placed an order with our supplier for more. All our momentum skidded to a halt when our supplier told us they were having difficulties with their manufacturing equipment and couldn’t get us covers. In December we ended up having to refund a bunch of orders because we had no covers — we felt absolutely terrible for disappointing people who were counting on holiday gifts.

Our supplier promised they would get us more covers within a few weeks once their equipment was running again. Well, six months (and countless phone calls and emails) later they have still not been able to provide the covers we need to make our books.

We’ve looked into every other possible solution — hardcover options from other suppliers, creating our own covers, even soft covers. But no alternative proved to be cost- or time-effective. Unfortunately we can’t keep Lookio going if we can’t make and sell our books.

We’re beyond bummed. But that said, we’re also beyond grateful. While this chapter is ending, we needed to take another moment to say that we couldn’t have done this without you. Your support made it possible for us to turn a dream into a business. We can’t thank you enough and wish we could continue.

If any of you backed our Kickstarter project at a level that came with a Lookio book, but you did not yet have a chance to order it, we are happy to offer you a refund. We only ask that you request it by June 30, 2014 so that we can officially get the business side of things wrapped up by then.

Lookio was very hard work, but it was an absolute blast too. We learned a TON throughout the last three years, and we plan to put that learning to good use in whatever experiences come next.

A sincere and enormous thank you to each and every one of you.

Shawn and Christine

Small Businesses Providing Great Gifts and Services

It’s Small Business Saturday! And being a small business, we think this is a great day to raise awareness and buy from businesses who are doin’ it for themselves. The awesome people who own these businesses have not only helped Lookio Books in countless ways, they also do fantastic work and provide top-notch services. So have a look and support small businesses today!

Fair Coast Goods and Upholstery

Are you looking for a unique gift that someone will love and use all the time? Then check out these handmade leather goods. Not only are they stylish, they are high quality and will last a long, long time. I use my Envelope Clutch all the time.

And Fair Coast not only offers leather goods, they also provide upholstery services. Visit their website or contact them at info@faircoastgoods.com to learn more.

Heather Kintner, Printed Odds & Ends 

Every year we buy this wall calendar and every year we love the patterns Heather creates for each month. And you can enjoy 20% off her 2014 wall calendars with coupon code 2014YAY through Cyber Monday.

If you like the calendar, also check out the other paper goods in Heather’s Etsy store. You won’t be disappointed!

Francis Marie Photography

Whether you need event, engagement, or portrait photographs, these are the people to go to if you’re in the Chicagoland area. They’re a great team to work with: down to earth and able to get the shots you want and ones you never could imagine because they are just so darn talented. Contact them at info@francismariephotography.com to book them for your next event or portrait. Have a look at some of their work below.

 

Kid Lit Odds and Ends

Here are a few odds and ends from the Kid Lit world this week:

  • First and foremost, we were sorry to hear that Ann Jonas, author and illustrator, passed away this week. Her picture book Round Trip is a favorite of ours because of its ingenious use of positive and negative space. Once you read the book, you turn it upside down and then continue reading it from back to front. It’s simply delightful and, like her other books, will continue to stretch children’s imaginations for generations to come.
  • Chip Kidd, the designer behind tons of book covers, including Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, has written a guide to graphic design for kids (ages 10 and up). It’s a great read for a budding artist or designer. To get a sense of what GO! A Kidd’s Guide To Graphic Design is all about, watch the trailer.
  • Next Tuesday marks the release date of a new book by William Joyce, who brought us The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore in both film and book form (among other great stories). The new book is titled The Mischievians. You can get a peek at it here, and pick up your own copy next week.

Do you know of anything cool that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

Have a great weekend everybody!

 

Save 40% When You Buy a Custom Children’s Book

We normally don’t write blog posts for shameless self-promotion, but we thought that this sale is worth sharing. All October, we’re offering a huge 40% discount on our personalized Lookio books. Get some holiday shopping done early and save some money! Just enter the code EARLYBIRD at checkout to receive 40% off the price of your book. Use the code as many times as you like. Tell your friends! It’s valid now through October 31.

Visit our website to check out our current titles, and have a look at the sample spreads from each book below.

Read a Book Online, Help Give Books to Kids in Need

We just discovered a new favorite website: wegivebooks.org. Here’s how it works–you choose a children’s book to read on their site. Then We Give Books will donate a book to a child in need.

Brilliant!

In order to read most of the books, you will need to create a free login. However, all of the Editor’s Picks can be read by anyone on any device without a login.

There are a bunch of titles to choose from: classics like The Little Engine That Could, Madeline, and The Tale of Peter Rabbit. You’ll also find new gems like Robomop, No Fits, Nilson, and Otis.

So who’s behind this great idea? We Give Books was created by The Penguin Group and The Pearson Foundation. They found a way to combine the joy of reading with the power of helping others. Together, they hope that We Give Books will inspire young children, together with their parents or caregivers, to become lifelong readers and lifelong givers. We love that!

Below are some screen shots taken while we read a few books on their website.

 

 

 

Kid Lit Odds and Ends

Here and there we’ve collected odds and ends from the Kid Lit world that we find interesting. Here’s what this week brought us:

  • Make mischief and mayhem today! It’s Roald Dahl Day (aka Roald Dahl’s birthday)! He was one of the world’s best storytellers, so go to your library or local bookstore and pick up one of his books. Even better, read his stories aloud to the little ones in your life. We’re willing to bet they will be riveted and thoroughly entertained. On a related note, his grandson, Luke Kelly, just put out a picture book of his own, and Vogue interviewed him about it.
  • We discovered this self portrait by Eric Carle, accompanied by this Carle quote: “Ever since I was very young, as far back as I can remember, I have loved making pictures. I knew even as a child that, when I grew up, I would be an artist of some kind. The lovely feeling of my pencil touching paper, a crayon making a star shape in my sketchbook, or my brush dipping into bright and colorful paints — these things affect me as joyfully today as they did all those years ago.”
  • We already knew author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers was super cool based on his children’s books alone. Now we have another reason to like him–he has Duck Hunt ducks adorning his walls. Last week The Guardian posted a piece about interior design, and they featured Oliver Jeffers’ home in New York. Take a look at the piece; the Duck Hunt ducks aren’t the only cool things about his home/workspace.

What odds and ends have you discovered in the kid lit world this week? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo credit: Francis Marie Photography

Developing Early Literacy Skills — Tip #5

Each day this week, in honor of International Literacy Day (September 8) and the back-to-school season, we are posting practical, research-based tips for encouraging young readers.

By Chazmin Baechler

Tip #5: Words, words, words!

Research shows that early vocabulary development is a strong predictor of not only future reading ability, but overall success in school. When children are able to understand and use a wide variety of words, they make better sense of what they are taught (in both listening and reading tasks), and are better able to express themselves. Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

To help your child find the right words, be sure to use them yourself; be descriptive and be specific. Is your child playing with his toy or his big, yellow bulldozer? Are you feeling happy or are you excited, joyful, thrilled, or grateful? Challenge yourself to use language that is colorful and specific, and your child’s sponge-like brain (yes, even the littlest ones!) will absorb the richness of your words. Other great ways to explore and enjoy words include: playing word games, singing songs, writing stories with your child, and making note of interesting words you come across.

This past week we covered just a few of the many, many ways to encourage your children to become readers for life. Do you have your own go-to strategies? Please share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

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Chazmin Baechler holds a Masters of Science in Education degree from Northwestern University and taught second grade in Chicago and Wilmette, IL. She currently works as a freelance educational consultant in Geneva, IL, where she lives with her husband and son. You can reach her at  chazminbaechler (at) gmail (dot) com.