School Library Journal: Patrick Carman Offers Byte-Sized Ghost Tales 2013

For tweens drawn toward the darker corners of literature, author Patrick Carman has crafted a multimedia storyline sure to entice them.

Entitled 3:15, Carman’s latest foray into storytelling involves downloadable apps for Android and Apple devices, which offer a hybrid of text, audio, and video.

The title, 3:15, alludes to three ways students can experience the story, by listening to a narrator, reading about 2,000 words of text, and watching a short video conclusion. Then there’s the time needed to finish an entire piece—a scant 15 minutes. So librarians and teachers looking for new ways to lure reluctant readers just may find 3:15 to be a killer app.

“I do think this is just an extension of trying to find ways to reach kids who aren’t reading,” says the author of the Skeleton Creek saga (Scholastic, 2009). “The reason they’re not reading often is they’re online and also watching television. And I’m trying to find a way to get reading into that top five.”

As the father of two teenage girls, Carman knows first hand the growing prevalence of digital media in kids’ lives. His new launch is a way to leverage that technology to the advantage of educators, publishers, and writers.

“This is a renaissance in reading when we as writers and publishers think about the experience of reading a book a little bit differently,” he says. “I always loved short stories, and am a big fan of Edgar Allen Poe, but those may be a little out of vogue for a fifth grader. But we can reinvent the short story and give it to [students] in a way they’re much more likely to consume.”

Carman fleshed out nine stories for the inaugural season of 3:15, with the first story, Buried Treasure, now live. Students can download the app and the first piece for free, with additional stories ringing up at $.99, including the second tale, Reflecting Pool, launching March 29. Scholastic is releasing the first season in book format by Halloween.

As with other Carman projects, 3:15 offers secret clues inside the stories, which then unlock additional content on the website-a formula that’s proven popular with tween and teen readers. Fans can also follow along via Facebook and Twitter.

“I don’t think all books should be like this,” he says. “But I’m trying to keep up with where kids are going. They’re moving in a certain direction, and I think we need to stay relevant.”

Patrick Carman