Budding Reader Book Set 1: Cat and Rat (Ten Books)

52 Ungluers have Faved this Work

Award winning, Budding Reader Book Set 1: Cat and Rat is the first of five learn-to-read e-book sets in the Budding Reader series. Developed in consultation with the former Director of Language & Literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and illustrated by an Emmy Award winning artist, these eBooks are designed to make learning to read easier and more fun for children, even struggling readers.

Intended to be a child’s very first set of readers, Budding Reader eBooks employ research based best practices to ease children into reading. Previewing a book dramatically improves comprehension which is why the first book in each set is wordless; children are encouraged to preview the story before any words are introduced. Repetition aids brain development, so subsequent books repeat and expand the story while slowly building vocabulary. This unique format teaches children, even preschoolers and reluctant readers, that: 1)They can learn to read if they try; and 2)The more words they learn to read, the more interesting the story. To better understand what makes Cat and Rat unique, take a peek behind the cover.

Budding Reader Book Set 1: Cat and Rat, which won Gold in the Mom’s Choice Awards for Best in Family-Friendly Products (or Services), was first published in December, 2011 by a socially responsible independent publisher. Inspired by TOMS Shoes one-for-one business model, Budding Reader donates an e-book to a child in need every time they sell one.  By partnering with non-profit literacy organizations that distribute digital books to children in need, Budding Reader eBook sets reach children around the world. 

To learn more about how eBook technology is bringing books to the developing world, check out this 2011 video from one of Budding Reader’s non-profit partners, Worldreader: 


Why unglue this book? Have your say.

(Feb. 14, 2013, 7:53 p.m.)
Just a final note to thank all of you for pledging to support "Cat and Rat." Obviously, this book set will not be unglued at this point in time. We just want you to know that we are still big believers in and look forward to the day when all of us are able to access a complete library of unglued books which are free and easy to share. Happy International Book Giving Day!
(Dec. 4, 2012, 4:15 p.m.)
Won't it be nice when we can share books as easily as I am sharing this email with you? Let's unglue "Cat and Rat" and help children around the world learn to read. If it has been months since you pledged to our campaign, then it is quite likely that your pledge was cancelled. All pledges were cancelled when changed payment processors. If you are a fan of Budding Reader eBooks or our mission to make learning to read easier and more fun for children, please log in to and verify that you do have a current pledge on file.

It is easy to do, takes just a minute and is really worth doing.

Many thanks to all of you.

(Oct. 31, 2012, 11:06 a.m.)
Many thanks to the ungluers who have pledged to our campaign. For those of you familiar with Budding Reader books, you may be glad to know that the fourth book set, Hop!, has joined its predecessors by winning Gold in the Mom's Choice Awards. Thanks again for your help and support.
(July 9, 2012, 10:03 p.m.)
Thanks for taking the time to explain this, keytyped. Before I received your thoughtful comments I had never heard of either Nina Paley nor Creator Endorsed Licenses. I’m afraid my background is in advertising, not publishing.

Perhaps we are kindred spirits. Budding Reader is on a mission to make learning to read easier and more fun for children everywhere and it sounds like you are out to help children learn as well. I am a really big fan of the open education movement and applaud your important work. It certainly was NOT our intent to hamstring any one in the open education movement by choosing an NC license. In fact, our intent was precisely the opposite. We want children in need to have access to Budding Reader eBooks for free which is why we have partnered with two non-profits (Worldreader and the World Literacy Foundation) to distribute an unlimited number of our eBooks to children in the developing world.

Is there a better way for publishers to communicate to the open source education movement that certain books are free for them to use and adapt as long as they are doing something to benefit children?

In terms of the $25,000 goal, it sounds like you think that is too much. You may be right - it is hard to say for sure when something is brand new. We believe it is fair for reasons outlined elsewhere, but because permits us to lower the fee we accept, we just might choose to accept less as we get closer to our deadline. We’d love to see Ungluers raise enough money to tempt us.

(July 9, 2012, 5:09 p.m.)
Nina Paley explains the disadvantages of NC licenses much better than I could:

I will say that I work in the the open education field and what I personally think when I find an "NC" license attached to something is "One more great resource the community can't build on."

I understand that there is a commercial market for this work and I hope to see grow to open works with increasingly large commercial markets. However, is /also/ a commercial proposition. We are being asked to commit substantial funds, as a community, to support the spread and use of this particular work.

This choice is not in a vacuum; we could instead try and purchase a different book, kickstart the commission of a new work, or hold a competition for the best original work covering this material, thereby sponsoring the potential creation of many different freely licensed works for the same price. For reference, the Saylor Foundation's open textbook challenge has built an entire college level curriculum of open textbooks this way and offers $5,000 less per college textbook than this campaign asks for 1/5th of a series of basic reading texts.

I am sure there are books worth this price, and I do not have experience with this book to offer any estimation of its particular worth. What I see is that we are being asked to pay substantial money in return for a license that leaves us with legally undefined rights to build on the work and leaves the publisher with the exclusive rights to commercially distribute the work we have freed. This seems particularly odd coming from a socially responsible publisher who recognizes that there are commercial production and distribution models that can work toward social good. is most exciting to me as a way to open up more resources to the community by moving away from the system of negotiating and licensing each kind of use with a publisher ahead of time. If I want to run a first grade play based on this book I don't want to worry about whether I can charge for tickets; if I want to distribute this book to children in slums who have no internet access I don't want to worry that I am breaking the law by selling memory cards with the book on them. I want the community to come up with ways to use and share this work that I would never dream of. If the community is to get less than that from our pledges, I feel the reasons for that should be prominently addressed in the campaign itself.
(July 4, 2012, 1:38 p.m.)
Thanks, Ronja! Your answers are spot on.

We know there is a need in the marketplace for books as easy to read as Budding Reader eBooks. We believe there is a lot of commercial potential in this book series especially since soon half the world’s population will be speaking English (so there are a lot of budding readers out there!). This book series is brand new and we’ve received a lot of very positive feedback from teachers and parents who have used these books with their emergent readers. We have four book sets on the market and the fifth is in the works (writing and illustrating books that are this simple to read is actually far harder and more time consuming than one might imagine. Each book set in the series took a year of nights and weekends just to illustrate).

We honestly believe that children shouldn't have to have money in order to learn to read which is why we donate an eBook to a child in need every time we sell one, but unfortunately, there are very real costs associated with creating and publishing Budding Reader eBooks (writing, editing, graphic designing, web development, literacy consultant, market testing, business licenses, paper, ink cartridges, computers, software, accountants, overhead, etc.)

Budding Reader is socially responsible, not a non-profit. If we were a non-profit, we’d have to spend our time and effort seeking grants or donations to cover our costs. Instead, as a socially responsible, for-profit company, we plan to use profits instead of donations to fund our social mission.

Early on we looked into using CC licensing but we walked away because we simply couldn't figure out how we could cover our costs if we started out that way. Then we learned about and got really excited. By unglueing this book set, we will be able to make a fair profit upfront instead of waiting for money to trickle in over time. Plus, unglueing “Cat and Rat” will allow us to open source the adaptation of this book set to various cultures, languages and electronic formats so it could be available to children for free, everywhere, indefinitely. We see how unglueing books can help us help more children, more quickly than we ever could otherwise.

Should our campaign for “Cat and Rat” succeed, we most definitely would consider unglueing other book sets in the future. We are very thankful to all who have pledged to our campaign and would very much appreciate anything our supporters might do to help us spread the word about Budding Reader and Wouldn’t the world be a better place if all children learned to read and all of us had a free library of unglued eBooks to read?

All the best,


P.S. To understand what makes Budding Reader books unique, please click on a book’s cover on this page:
P.S.S. Budding Reader is pleased to announce that we now have TWO non-profit partners:
(July 4, 2012, 4:40 a.m.)
@keytyped I cannot speak for the author, illustrator or the publisher, but I can make a few educated guesses.

1) This book series was published as recently as December 5, 2011 and won gold in Mom's Choice Awards in April 2012 - only three months ago (see link at the end of this post). A sizable amount of work went into these books, and looking at the feedback on Amazon, the commercial potential seems good. In other words, the book series is just taking off commercially.

Do you really think that the author and illustrator should just hand away most of their chances of making money from their work less than a year after publishing? I don't.

2) Do you realize that an NC license allows every parent and not-for-profit organization to use this book for free, as long as they don't make money from it? Additionally, this is not only true for the English books, but also for translated versions, as NC-SA allows translations. Some translators could be quite eager to do a translation pro bono - I'll do a translation into at least Swedish, maybe also Finnish, if the ungluing is successful. Why? Because my eldest daughter and a couple of her cousins have reading and writing difficulties, and this book series could have made a difference for them at the right age.

Those free uses can cause a pretty big loss of sales.

3) The author's and illustrator's publishing contracts with Devonhall likely require an NC license.

In light of the above, I find USD 25,000 (the equivalent of the price of 1813 Kindle copies) acceptable.

Link to the awards page
(June 25, 2012, 5:10 p.m.)
I would really love a quality free book to help with basic reading skills. What I don't understand is why we should pledge $25k for this particular book, which is only 1/5th of the introductory series, and have the resulting book still be restricted by a Non-Commercial use clause.
(May 28, 2012, 10:37 p.m.)
I have used the Budding Reader books with my Kindergarten students with great success! They absolutely love the illustrations and enjoy picture walking through the first book. Then gaining confidence as they slowly add new vocabulary/sight words book by book, they achieve success with greater ease then if they had been presented with the complete book at the first sitting. They enjoy writing their own version of the story on the free writing worksheets. This has been a wonderful series for my students to learn beginning reading skills. I also applauded Melinda's vision for trying to get this book into the hands of as many children as possible!!!
(May 22, 2012, 5:02 p.m.)
Budding Reader is all about helping children everywhere learn to read and giving free eBooks to children in need is essential to our mission. We’re thrilled to be a part of because we see so many possibilities for ways unglued books can help an unlimited number of the world’s children.

As an unglued book with a CC BY-NC-SA license, this book can be customized to meet the individualized needs of children around the world. For example:
•The African Storybook Project could take the artwork from this story and use it to quickly and easily create a variety of new children’s books in a number of tribal languages. (Historically, books for very early readers have been extremely rare in Africa.)
•A Speech Therapist might re-imagine this story to be about “Rex the Rat reaching for cheese,” in order to coax a young student to practice reading (and articulating) words that begin with the letter R.
•A father could rewrite this story, giving the cat and rat the names of his two children to tell a morality tale about sharing and the power of words.

With unglued eBooks, the possibilities are limitless.

(May 21, 2012, 5:21 p.m.)
This ingenious set of children's books will be very a terrific resource in rural Africa where creative and appropriate books for very early readers are very rare. I used the first five books with children and teachers in Uganda and South Sudan. They draw you in immediately. First you tend to make up the story from the wonderful pictures, and then you are primed to want to read the words. I think these books will also encourage children to write their own books.
The African Storybook Project, hopes to use this whole set in a new innovative free e-library that allows users to immediately re-version books into local languages and cultures so that new readers can connect to text in whatever language is most appropriate for them. We hope that many, many authors will follow the lead of Melinda Thompson and Melissa Ferrell in understanding that free resources will build readership, not undercut authors' ability to make a living. We hope that many African authors and others who believe in making wonderful and culturally appropriate text available to more African children will contribute stories to the African Storybook Project as soon as this new portal is running. For more information please write me at
Once first reading materials are available in abundance in the languages children know, and children are no longer starved of the types of books that hook them on reading, we are sure that literacy will become a right instead of a promise all over Africa. To do this, we need writers and illustrators to see that your needs to publish and African children's needs to practice reading are part of a wonderful cycle that will sustain both. Congratulations to Melinda and Melissa and welcome to everyone else.

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