At more than eight million weekly active users, YouTube Kids is turning to its audience once again to promote literacy in the second annual #ReadAlong campaign. Kicking off today, the initiative will intro four new exclusive shows, two new celebrity-curated playlists and the involvement of four big publishing houses.
The campaign is also going global as YouTube Kids continues to expand. While last year’s inaugural campaign was focused on English content in the US, it is now expanding to 25 countries and will include content in Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.
This year’s #ReadAlong has attracted creators to work with YouTube Kids to make four new exclusive literacy-themed shows. Los Angeles-based channel PINKFONG has created a series called Word Play, while Colombia’s Toycantando is releasing a 10 x 15-minute episode series that revisits classic children’s tales. Each episode is divided into five parts focusing on one specific word for kids to learn. India’s ChuChuTV, meanwhile, is releasing Learning English is Fun with 40 episodes teaching kids about each of the 26 letters of the alphabet. And USP Studio’s Bob the Train from India will release a spin-off series entitled Learning Street with Bob, which focuses on teaching toddlers English through colorful 3D animation, original songs and activities.
YouTube Kids will also continue showcasing curated playlists, with The Minions from Universal’s Despicable Me building a list around What Minions Read, and Green Bay Packers football star Martellus Bennett’s playlist themed around Father’s Day and dubbed Daddy Daughter Story Time.
“This is one of those campaigns where everyone is creating their content independently. So you’re going to see curated content from Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and from Disney,” says Hema Bajaj, strategic programming manager for YouTube Family & Learning. “Everyone is leaning in to the platform because it’s just a really fun moment that we think kids are going to love.”
Simon & Schuster played a big role in last year’s campaign, and while Bajaj says she imagines the publishing house will still want to create content independently, four other major publishers have been working directly with YouTube Kids to pull together videos.
HaperCollins is creating a series called Kid Critics, which Bajaj is particularly excited about because of how well book reviews do on YouTube at large. Penguin Random House is developing read-along picture book videos on their Brightly Kids channel. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is publishing one storybook video a day for 30 days for a playlist called 30 Fairytales and Fables, while National Geographic Kids is making videos about its non-fiction offerings.
“I’ve seen my five-year-old nephew watch a DIY on YouTube Kids and then run over to his arts and crafts bin and start working on that project,” says Bajaj. “Similarly, I think having kids be able to watch the content of one of these publishers on the platform, and then run to a bookshelf and read that book, is so exciting.”
Any creator can participate in the month-long initiative by tagging content with #ReadAlong. And Bajaj says unlike last year, the content will be a lot easier to find. For example, it won’t just be scattered across the home page, there is now a dedicated tab where kids can go to find all of the related content.
“YouTube Kids will feel like a reading app. There’s a splash screen and we have a little bookworm icon,” says Bajaj. “It’s just going to be a lot more immersive, which is great.”
It makes sense for the scale of the #ReadAlong initiative to grow alongside YouTube Kids‘ expansion. The app now has more than 30 billion views to date and is ranked among the top five kids app in the Apple App Store. It is now available in 28 countries and is translated into seven local languages, with much of that growth occurring over the past year.