Your first airplane ride. First visit to the doctor. First haircut. Many of us don’t remember how scary those firsts can be for a child. But when you’re a parent you quickly realize that the milestones you celebrate for your children might be fraught with fear for them.
— what your child hears.
— what you said.
Educators Nicole and Damir Fonovich have developed a series of apps and ebooks called Luca Lashes which aim to help children conquer their fear of firsts by making the unknown seem familiar. These books use animation, sounds, rhyming words and special effects to help teach a child what to expect when encountering new situations. The authors help children see the world through the eyes of Luca and show them how Luca empowers himself to overcome his fears.
Luca Lashes apps and ebooks follow Luca through events such as taking his first trip to the doctor, getting his first haircut, learning to brush his teeth, and having his first swimming lesson. The series also tackles more challenging experiences such as a taking a trip to a nursing home and visiting Mommy in the hospital.
The books are designed for children ages 0-4 and are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, French and Italian. You can adjust the font to five different sizes.
Here’s a video about the development of the Luca Lashes books:
The books are interactive, engaging the child through sight, sound and touch. The app reads the story aloud to the child and highlights words as they’re spoken. The pages turn automatically, and a pause button is available to stop the story so the child can linger on a page.
The illustrations are interactive, pressing on objects reveals hidden treasures such as a school bus honking, a light turning on and off and other surprises. Luca Lashes has 75 to 150 interactive opportunities/sound effects embedded into each app.
Luca Lashes isn’t just for kids. Each book contains resources for parents to help them help their kids navigate the challenges of childhood. The final page of each book offers helpful advice for parents.
Parents can also check out the Luca Lashes YouTube Channel for further guidance. Each book has an accompanying video for parents to learn more about the topic. Videos are available in the same languages as the Luca Lashes books.
Apps and Ebooks
The Luca Lashes series of books is available both as apps and as ebooks. The apps include sound and are interactive and animated. The story is read aloud and the pages turn automatically in the app. You can choose from five different languages within the app so you could also use the apps to teach written and spoken language to an older child.
The series is also available in ebook format without the animation, sound or interactive features. Ebooks can be purchased in each of the five available languages.
Luca Lashes Visits the Doctor
The publisher provided me with the app Luca Lashes Visits the Doctor so I could try out the series. This story is designed to help a child understand what a visit to a doctor involves, including receiving an injection. Luca is scared at first but overcomes his fears by using his “magical powers” with his eyelashes.
The combination of illustrations, interactive features soothing music and a heartwarming story seem to work well in an app designed to engage children and help them understand experiences we adults take for granted.
The Luca Lashes series is available as both apps and ebooks on many different devices including:
iPhone and iPod Touch
The series currently contains nine books with 36 books planned for the entire series. The books are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, French and Italian. The books currently available as apps and ebooks are:
Luca Lashes: The Brown-Eyed Boy with the Magic Eyelashes
Luca Lashes Learns to Brush His Teeth
Luca Lashes and His First Trip to the Dentist
Luca Lashes and His First Haircut
Luca Lashes has his First Swimming Lesson
Luca Lashes Visits the Doctor
Luca Lashes and the Trip to the Nursing Home
Luca Lashes Visits Mommy in the Hospital
Luca Lashes and His First Airplane Ride
The first book in the series, Luca Lashes The Brown-Eyed Boy with Magical Lashes, is available for free. Visit the Luca Lashes website for links to all of the apps in the series. Apps are $1.99 and ebooks are $2.99.
I still remember Mary, the saint/hair stylist at Kids’ Cuts in New Jersey who gave all three of my kids their first haircut. She patiently endured their screams and the screams of hundreds of other kids who were unconvinced at their parents’ reassurance that getting a haircut doesn’t hurt. My girls are well past the age intended for Luca books but I do wish that we had Luca when they were younger to help ease their fears.
My other wish is for a Luca book to help parents overcome their fear of teaching their children to drive a car. Maybe someday?
Do you remember your first haircut? Have you ever tried to help a child overcome a fear of a first time experience? Do you like to use interactive books to teach children? What first experience do you think is most fearful for a child (or parent)? Let us know in the Comments section below!