Stratford storybook creators to appear on Dragon's Den - The Leamington Observer

Stratford storybook creators to appear on Dragon's Den

Leamington Editorial 1st Feb, 2024   0

The LATEST entrepreneurs to pitch to BBC One’s Dragons’ Den are children’s storybook creators from Stratford.

Simon Hood and Charlene Mitchell-Hood, married co-founders of Sooper Books, appear on episode five of the new season of the show, with their ambition to be the world’s best storybook streaming service – making reading exciting for children and effortless for parents.

The author-illustrator couple will pitch to the formidable team of Peter Jones, Touker Suleyman, Deborah Meaden, Steven Bartlett and Sara Davies.

Charlene said: “Facing the Dragons has been our biggest challenge yet. Not only did we have a short space of time to cover our business model and financial details – we wanted to ensure our unrivalled passion for reading and stories came through confidently for the camera, despite our nerves.”

Every year in the UK it is estimated that 200,000 children leave primary school at 11 unable to read or write to the required level, leading to the UK having the lowest rates of literacy of any developed nation. While over in the US, where Sooper Books is fast becoming the go-to site for children’s stories, approximately 40 per cent of American students cannot read at a basic level.

When they fell pregnant with their first child in late 2019, Simon and Charlene discussed the countless mental health and development benefits reading to children has and started an online library of bespoke curated and narrated books for their daughter, Goldi.

The five to ten minute children’s stories range from short digital and audible stories to multiple story episodes in series collections, featuring wibbly-wobbly aliens, a flying sheepdog, gouda trees, a posh rat and a one-leg-one-wheeled alligator monster to name but a few.

When lockdown hit in 2020, the couple realised they wanted to truly make a difference to families all around the country who were either struggling to read with or to their children, or just wanted access to more unique stories.

And so they began offering their stories for free online to all UK primary schools.

Simon added: “Just six weeks after offering our content for free to primary schools we jumped to number one in Google for ‘bedtime stories’ in over 50 countries. We went from zero page views to over a million in weeks and we’ve now surpassed 25 million views, with the UK and the US being our largest audiences. We’ve hired a world-class team, published over 200 exclusive stories and audiobooks and kept to our ‘read free’ promise by always having 100 stories and audiobooks completely free for all families to enjoy.”

Currently valued at over £5million, Sooper Books boasts an impressive team of critically acclaimed creative minds—who are also parents—including double Emmy award winning children’s TV scriptwriter and playwright Glen Berger and coveted Disney and BBC voice actor Philip Hurd-Wood.

Sooper Books will be on Dragon’s Den on Thursday (February 1) at 8pm on BBC One.


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