Hi everyone! My name is Jenny Kananov Shayo and I'm one of the proud Co-Founders of Mosey - an app that supports children's reading and encourages them to read for pleasure. I'm so excited about the launch of our blog!
In this first post I thought I’d start by explaining how we got here and why we're on a mission to help every child discover the joy of reading.
It all began in November 2021, when Yvette Aarons and I joined the Zinc Venture Builder, a 12-month, mission-led programme that builds businesses from scratch – think of it as a startup factory. Our Venture Builder’s mission focused on improving the mental health of children and young people. We joined a diverse group of committed individuals united by a shared passion to create social impact and make the world a better place.
The first couple of months of the programme were incredibly intense. We learned from experts, worked with different people and explored numerous ideas. Then, it was time to find a specific problem we’d like to solve as well as the person/people we’d like to partner with long term.
In January 2022, Yvette and I began working together. Yvette has been interested in supporting children's reading due to personal experiences with her own kids and I was quickly hooked because reading has been very meaningful to me throughout my life. As a former educational psychologist, I also knew how frustrating it can be for children who are experiencing difficulties reading. We decided to join forces and focus on this issue.
We started researching and were amazed to learn the following:
Reading for pleasure is a better predictor of life achievements than the family’s socio-economic background. (OECD, 2002)
I had my doubts at first. Surely this was an exaggeration and only a correlation! But then we kept looking at the literature and talking to experts. We discovered that reading for pleasure has multiple benefits that included supporting mental health, developing a richer vocabulary, and improving language skills, as well as higher educational attainment. There was an overwhelming amount of evidence indicating that reading for pleasure is a powerful tool for increasing social mobility and improving emotional health.
Sounds good, right? A child simply needs to enjoy reading, do it consistently and independently, and the impact of that will be profound and long-term.
Except it isn't as simple as it sounds.
The rates of reading for pleasure have been dropping over recent years, recently reaching the lowest on record in the UK and the US.
In an effort to understand why this is happening, we began investigating and identified multiple barriers to reading for pleasure that children and their family members might experience. These ranged from reading difficulties to a lack of access to books and problems finding books that children like and are suitable for their age and reading level. Unsurprisingly, an additional barrier was growing competition from online forms of entertainment like YouTube and video games.
After having many conversations with parents and experts we felt confident that most parents understand how significant reading is for their child’s development. But they often don’t know how to support their child and help them develop a habit of reading for pleasure.
And this is how Mosey was born.
How are we doing this? In short, we’re leveraging technology to remove barriers and create a brilliant digital reading experience that is inclusive, engaging and effective.
What does this actually mean? We'll tell you more in our upcoming blogs. Please stay tuned!