It might be hard for some of use to believe, but there's a whole new generation that finds it easier to communicate screen-to-screen rather than face-to-face. Restricting access to social media is the new "Go to your room" the selfie became so vital that selfie sticks became necessary to capture a wider view because we can't, you know, ask somebody to take a picture for us. That's why I wish an app like the one in Click'd by Tamara Ireland Stone really existed.
In this teen fiction novel published by Disney Hyperion, a 12-year-old girl named Allie has just returned from CodeGirls camp and is beyond excited to share the app she developed there with her friends. Click'd was created with the intention of helping students make friends by having users take surveys and pairing them with students nearby with similar interests. But unlike most apps, this one requires them to actually find each other using clues and GPS. When they meet, they must tap their phones and take a picture to share with the world that they, well, clicked.
Allie's app is being entered into the Game for Good competition and after sharing it with her friends, it quickly goes viral. The pressure is on when her teacher is also mentoring another student who also has a great app that's competing against hers. But things take an unexpected turn when the app accidentally reveals one of her best friend's secrets and as the user base grows out of control, Allie's little app has a hard time keeping up with demand.
It was very easy to get wrapped up in Click'd and Allie is a perfect role model for middle school students today. She has big dreams and the passion and drive to make them come true. Stone has also made her well rounded, giving her a variety of interests rather than just a techie and her enthusiasm for coding doesn't get her labeled as a nerd as would often be the case. She completely breaks any stereotypes and proves that kids today really can have it all. I love that she has a support group of friends who have her back, even when times get tough.
The app within the book uses a leaderboard that ranks users based on interests and one of the really fun elements is that these leaderboards appear on the pages. Anytime a conversation takes place through text messages, the pages also become a phone screen, a great storytelling device. Click'd contains all of the hallmark Disney elements of storytelling: dreams, wish fulfillment, and an innovative approach to bringing the story to life.
While reading Click'd, it was not lost on me how easily this could be adapted to the screen. I hope that Disney Channel producers take note, because the network has lost of the magic of smaller DCOMs that don't require big musical numbers. I think CLICK'D could really touch on something special if adapted for the screen and brought to an even bigger audience.
If the book inspires young readers to take an interest in coding, Tamara Ireland Stone has included a few challenges in the book's final pages as well as a link to additional resources online. I highly recommend Click'd to middle school readers and hope it serves as a source of inspiration to them, whatever their dreams may be.