BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - A local tech guy hopes to make reading a much more personal experience for kids. It starts with giving a modern twist to the characters in books.
Once upon a time, Mondo Davison struggled to find the right book.
"As a kid, when it was reading time, I would go grab my book, sit in a corner under my desk and act like I was reading," Davison said. "As an educator over seven years in St. Paul Public Schools I noticed the same thing. A lot of kids would act, perceived reading."
Davison, who calls himself the Black Tech Guy, is trying to solve what he sees as a problem. With a little help from Prime Digital Academy, he created a platform to showcase short stories called, Shortiez.
"When I think about the literature in schools. There is none or very few kids of color in any of these books," Davison said. "My focus is on having kids of color be more reflected in the stories that they are reading. There are so many untold stories, lets capture them."
Davison said every short story starts with a profile of each character featuring their image and main personally trait.
Prime, an accelerated learning program helping people without traditional backgrounds in technology, pitched in for free.
Prime's founder, Mark Hurlburt, said a team of about six Prime students helped Davison prototype and develop the interface for the customization of the stories.
"It shared a lot of the same DNA as Prime so it was a great fit for us to get students involved," Hurlburt said. "We are a company and organization in community built on belief and the power of diversity. Our mission is really around trying to bring a wider range of people into the technology field."
Davison, who quit his job with St. Paul Public Schools to pursue tech full time, hopes the web based platform leave will children eager to flip though the pages of each story.
"We hope, when it is time to read, kids are actually engaged in reading because they have control over what they are reading," he said. "Do we have it figured out? I don't know. We will test and see."
Davison said his team is crowdsourcing content from local writers and illustrators to build their digital library of short stories.