CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WICS/WCCU) — Two University of Illinois students published a children's book and found out just how difficult it can be.
Now they want to make it a little easier for other authors while promoting literacy and teaching kids diversity.
"More quality screen time has become the number one challenge for parents right now," said Armand Tossou.
Like most parents, Armand Tossou and Melanie Keil want the best for their kids. They understand how important it can be to keep an eye on what their children are watching.
"It's more about the quality and what they're consuming," Tossou said.
Many kids are already glued to their tablets, phones and computers at an early age, sparking the debate about "screen time," leaving experts and parents alike wondering how much is too much?
The World Health Organization suggests no screen time for kids younger than one and an hour or less for kids five and under.
So how do you make the best of that hour?
Toussou and Keil think Red Clover Reader is the answer.
It's a way to teach reading, foreign language and culture.
And, it teaches children about diversity.
"We have a lot of authors of color and a lot of characters of color," said Keil. "If you look at children's literature, less than 10% of characters are kids colors."
Children and parents can go to Redcloverreader.com and pick a book to read, watch videos from the authors, draw in the book, animate it and read with others around the world through audio and video calls - something that Vishnu Srinivasan is proud to have helped create.
"People in like California and Illinois can collaborate in real time," he said. "They can work on the same book; read together."
"What we're building is not just a local company, it's a global company," Tossou said. "And right now, we're really happy to report we have nearly 100 books available from authors across the globe."
Right now, it's free and only available here, but the creators are working on an app.
They hope to partner with local schools and libraries to use Red Clover Reader.