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Brief Published: 22 Oct 2019

Tech-Boosted Books Teach Kids Language & Empathy

Habbi Habbi books help children develop second language literacy

US start-up Habbi Habbi makes learning a new language accessible and fun for kids, using tech-enhanced books and a translation wand. The interactive product range will appeal to the 31% of US parents who want their child to spend more time engaging in educational activities (Gallup, 2017).

The books teach children keywords, phrases and emotions via images and captions, both in English and a chosen second language. Kids learn by tapping pictures and words on the pages with a digital reading wand that recognises and pronounces them in another language. At the moment, Spanish and Mandarin are available. 

While integrating technology that drives engagement, Habbi Habbi’s books are made with conventional paper. It’s a feature many parents will appreciate, particularly those looking to cut down on the 2.7 hours spent on screen-based play by the average US child (Gallup, 2017). The book format will also appeal to children, as 65% of US kids prefer to read in print, even if a screen option is available (Scholastic, 2018). 

Given bilingualism in America has doubled from 11% in 1980 (Psychology Today, 2018) to 22% today (Census Bureau, 2018), products that cater to dialectically diverse consumers are growing in commercial potential.

As multicultural societies become the norm (see The Consumer of 2035: Inclusivity Outlook for more), products that chime with Gen Alpha’s (aged zero to nine) values of empathy and inclusivity are the most likely to succeed. Habbi Habbi’s books are a good example – a career-themed one scraps gender stereotypes in the workplace, while another focuses on emotions to help kids express and understand their feelings.

The company launched its starter kit, including four books and the reading wand, on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter in September 2019. Future titles include Acts of Kindness and Book of Manners.

For more on the innovative toys and tech upskilling the youngest generation, see The Gen Alpha Moment and Toys and Kids’ Interiors Visual Round-Up