Personalized Tech
My first daughter could read her own name before she could sing the ABC song. Their own name is the first word most children learn to read. So as I consider what reading-plaything to create for my second daughter, her own name is an obvious starting point.

Early Childhood educators are familiar with the Alphabetic Principle. The alphabetic principle is the understanding that words are made up of letters and letters represent sounds. It is seen as a fundamental principle of reading readiness. I see the alphabetic principle as two separate understandings; the first is that words are made up of letters and the second is that letters can cue sounds. The first is foundational, the second is ancillary.

We didn't evolve to read, and we certainly didn't evolve to sound out words. This is the primary argument educators are making when they say that reading is not natural and must be taught, and it is the primary argument that frustrates the arguments of those who point out that children can naturally learn to read without intervention. But here is the catch: writing did evolve to be read by our brains, brains that did evolve to discriminate subtle messages in nature.

In his book, The Vision RevolutionMark Changizi makes the case that the features of written language match the features we see in nature, much more closely than what we would most easily scratch out by hand. The reason for this is that our written language has evolved to be easily to read at the expense of being easy to write. The result is technology (written language) adapted to our brain which gives us superpowers. This is possibly the earliest example of Augmented Intelligence, or Intelligence Amplification.

Intelligence Amplification through Technology Assisted Immersion in Literature is the primary mission of Sara.AI. And that is exactly what I am creating in this plaything for my daughter. So while we did not evolve to sound out words, and resultantly she has no phonemic awareness, she is more than capable of recognizing letters and the patterns they make. Her own name is an excellent manipulative to help learn the first half of the alphabetic principle: that words (such as her name) can be represented by a string of letters.

So I hacked (or crafted) a simple plaything of Personalized Tech which lets her play with the letters of her name.

 I want to make this tech available to any toddler or preschooler, so I am publishing a board book that tells the story of a preschooler's adventures in reading. This book will only use 17 words, including many of the most frequently used words in contemporary American Children's Fiction, and together account for 1 in 6 of all words in American Children's Fiction. The identity of the protagonist is personalizable; when placing an order the parent can include a picture and name of the child. The child's name and picture will then be on the front cover and throughout the book. When first appearing in the book, every word, including the child's own name, will be made up of letter manipulatives for the child to play with.

If you want to be able to purchase this book I need more followers on Patreon or other social media who are also interested so I can invest in the printer setup. Please share with your friends and family.