Joe Bond

Building Odyssey, a reading app for kids

Product Design

I was a summer camp counselor growing up, and my favorite part of the job was telling stories. The stories would almost always start out with a mundane detail and build into absurdity. It was a small part of the camp experience, but these 10 minute stories almost always lead to inside jokes, teambuilding, and teachable moments.

Stories rich with details are a way for us to process the world around us, and for kids they're also a way to explore language they might not otherwise be exposed to in regular conversation. Being able to navigate the nuances of language is a fundamental building block of a fulfilling life.

Language is a muscle, and we each have to train it. Reading is one of the best ways to do that.

Kid's Books as a Service

Odyssey is kid's books as a service—sharing stories anywhere where there's an internet connection. I say "as a service" mostly as a joke, but I think that type of model has a lot of value to offer. When publishing is easy, it's not crazy to write a quick 200 word story and publish it the next day.

My goal is for to make it possible for kids to self-service stories (get help pronoucing a word, have the book read itself, etc.) even when their parents or guardians are unable to sit down with them. I'm not trying to replace reading The Giving Tree at bedtime—I want to help kids love reading all the time.

The stories are also the foundation that we can layer lots of educational technology onto. With just the Web Speech API, we have an efficient, safe, and affordable means to speech recognition and verbalization. That API is experimental, of course, but it's a start!

Early UI

I'm building this app with SvelteKit. Still pretty early on the UI, but I'm hoping to have some things live in November.

Early Odyssey interface