Litnerd is an online reading club program with a weekly live meetup to help students make reading a lifelong habit. Think of us as “book club meets gaming”. New books go live weekly, and each book has movie adaptations, music, reading courseware, mini lessons with a virtual teacher and worksheets. There are reading tournaments every month to recognize the top reader. The goal of our app is to create a fun and engaging way of cultivating a child’s natural curiosity by bringing the subject matter to life (movie adaptation of books with real actors, cartoon animation, enacted experiences) and through gamification—our community is obsessed with earning “Litcoin” (yup, we actually did this and it really works!) and winning monthly tournaments.
Here’s a video that shows how Litnerd works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSVjWi-rE8k. Here’s a video I made for parents, summarizing what’s new with our product: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mniVUWx6tvM, and here is an older video that gives you a quick demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1wdk9ofb5w.
When we did our Launch HN back in 2021 (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28300640), we got two prominent themes of feedback. One was B2C access—you asked us to open the app for parents to buy directly rather than selling it only to schools. The other was that it gave you massive Diamond Age vibes. I read the Diamond Age. It gave me chills. Thank you!
Originally, Litnerd was only sold to schools, and teachers had to administer the product in classroom time. We were also streaming live actors into the classroom to reenact books and build interest and fun.
Now, our program is a standalone web app used by both schools and parents (B2C access is live—thanks HN!) We no longer stream live actors into classrooms, but rather have films and cartoons in-app to bring the book to life, all filmed in our Brooklyn studio. We also have original soundtracks for each book, in both the app and on Spotify.
Our product is now used by kids primarily after school hours—and the average kid is spending 30 minutes in the app daily! Parents in our first B2C cohort commented on how this is the only educational app their child wants to use without being pushed by a parent/teacher. With just 4 months of Litnerd usage, students improved comprehension by 72% and phonics improvement by 48%. Your child is auto-enrolled in a cohort when they sign up. They are also auto-enrolled in the current reading tournament of the month. The goal is to earn the most amount of Litcoin so that you can win tournaments and go shopping in the Litnerd Store. To earn Litcoin, your child does 3 things. First, they complete at least 15 minutes of daily reading. Second, they have daily reading tasks, such as quizzes and worksheets to build vocabulary and comprehension. Third, they attend a weekly live (virtual) meetup with their cohort.
Why a live meetup? The Litnerd Reading Club is a community experience with a weekly meetup (if you miss the weekly meetup, you miss out on a lot of Litcoin earning potential). This ensures kids using the app feel like they are in a classroom or pod experience. Each child is entered into a cohort when they enroll, and each week your child will meet virtually with other kids in their cohort and discuss the book they are reading with our special guest (which might be the author of the book, an actor from the movie adaptation of the book, a literacy coach, etc). Here is a video to show what happens in these cohort sessions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOcybwyGelo
We have so much more to build out our version of the Primer from Diamond Age and inspire millions of kids, just like Nell, to fall in love with learning. We are working on turning the entire app into a game-ux interface, where kids can explore different cities in the app and read books/go through materials at their own pace and that the app will adapt to their interests. We also have our eye on adding other subjects and older grades in the future.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how you foster reading amongst your children! I am excited to hear your feedback and ideas to help us inspire the next generation of readers.