How A 5-Year-Old Used An iPad To Become A Published Author


In 2012 John Tambunan became one of the youngest ever publishers on Apple’s iBookstore. His book ‘Little Fish’ has since been downloaded across the world over 7,800 times.

It all began when John started telling his mum, Jane Ross, about the lake near their house where he loves to go and catch fish.

Such was John’s enthusiasm; Jane decided to make a book about his experience. Taking John down to the lake, she took photos on her iPhone along the way and when they returned, they sat down together and made an ebook using Book Creator for iPad.

John chose the photos and sentences for the book, and with his mum’s help read aloud each page and saved the audio to the book.

Little Fish in a big pond

John and Jane got such a good reaction to this book from classmates and friends that they decided to publish the book on the iBookstore. Although normally a quite technical process, this was made easier because Book Creator already formats the book so it meets Apple’s requirements for the iBookstore, plus Jane had already published a few books to iTunes by then.

It’s worth pointing out at this point that Jane Ross is an Apple Distinguished Educator who specialises in iPad teaching in Asia! She had some experience in publishing to the iBookstore but this is the first time she’d ever written a book with her son.

After waiting a few weeks for the book to appear on iTunes, what happened next was very unexpected.

Within a month Little Fish had reached the top 40 in the US iBookstore, within 2 months the book had been downloaded over 3,000 times! As of September 2013 the book has been downloaded 7,800 times worldwide.

The book has had several reviews in France and it has also been reviewed in Germany, US, Australia, Netherlands and the UK.

Why was this book so popular?

What can we learn from this? Sometimes it’s the little things which have the biggest impact. There are a few reasons why a book like this can prove so popular:

  • It is simple and personal
  • It has full colour photos that show what happened
  • It has a voice recording which can help young children learning to read
  • It has been created by a child with help from his mother – not by a professional publishing house

Jane Ross commented:

It is amazing to think that people can now share their stories in this way. My son’s book is regularly featured by Apple in the iBookstore alongside professional authors such as Beatrix

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