An Entrepreneur Focused On Empowering Children

By Paul Wood
The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Ill.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Each week, staff writer Paul Wood talks with a high-tech difference maker. This week, meet MELANIE KEIL of Red Clover Reader, an online service specializing in the promotion of children’s books.

The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Ill.

Melanie is co-creator of the online platform with fiancé Armand Tossou, who is completing a Ph.D. in applied economics. She earned a degree in environmental health and radiological science. Together they write books for children about the power of positive mindset and self-improvement.

Question: What is Red Clover Reader, in your own words?

Answer: Red Clover Reader is an early stage educational tech startup based in Champaign. We are creating a fun, online reading application where kids can read books online and parents can track their progress and create reading incentives. We provide safe, affordable and worthwhile online “edutainment” for children and bring greater diversity into children’s literature by highlighting stories from a wide variety of independent and self-published authors. Our platform is currently in the testing phase.

Red Clover Reader was born out of our own struggles (my partner and I) as parents and self-published children’s authors. As parents, we worried about what our kids were consuming online: Is it safe, is it worthwhile, does it align with our values? We were always looking for a great solution that was fun, educational, and affordable.

Question: And what problems do you solve?

Answer: When we wrote and published our first kids book, we realized that there are tons of self-published authors, like ourselves, who have great stories to tell, but lack the industry connections or the financial backing it takes to be traditionally published. We developed Red Clover Reader to solve both problems. We provide families free access to fun online content that they feel good about and give independent authors a chance to share their stories with a wider audience.

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