Thursday, January 9, 2014

To This Day, by Shane Koyczan -- powerful book app for teens (12-18)

Intense. Gripping. You could hear a pin drop.

Those aren't words you typically hear when kids describe book apps, a medium known more for its flashy interactive elements. But that's exactly how they react to the powerful spoken word poem To This Day, by Shane Koyczan, that's been turned into an amazing app. If you have a teen, definitely share this with them.
To This Day
written by Shane Koyczan
developed by Moving Tales, Inc.
2013 Cybils Book Apps finalist
ages 12-18
Shane Koyczan
In To This Day, Koyczan writes of his experience dealing with violence, bullying and harassment in school in a searingly honest way. The app takes Koyczan's performance and adds animation and artwork created by multiple artists, making the anti-bullying message even stronger.

At first I wondered whether the app provided a different experience than watching the video. Only after reading, listening and watching the app a few times did I realize the true extent of the differences. Every time you open the app, different animated clips run with the individual stanzas of the poem. This keeps the reader engaged, thinking about how the artwork develops and extends the meaning of the words.

The animations, crowd-sourced from over 80 different artists, resonate with the material because they communicate the sense that people of all stripes and hues experience problems of bullying. The variety of the illustrations helps take Koyczan's very personal poem and make the message more universal on a visual and visceral level.

Koyczan makes sure readers know that words can hurt more than sticks and stones, but that in the end we all must walk the balancing act in our lives, believing in our own beauty.
“My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways.” says poet Shane Koyczan. “I wrote To This Day, a spoken word poem, to further explore the profound and lasting impact that bullying can have on an individual.”
I also love sharing this poem in a book app format because it allows the reader to experience Koyczan's powerful performance, but to bring some of the reading qualities to it. On the app, you can easily reread a stanza if you want it to sink in a bit more. If you're watching the video, you lose control of the pacing and let the poem wash over and sink in.

Please, please -- find a quiet moment. Listen and read this poem yourself. Think about how it resonates with your experiences, or friends you know. And then find someone else to share it with.

To This Day is a finalist in the 2013 Cybils Book Apps Award. The final winner will be announced February 14th. The review copy came from my personal library. But since this is currently free, I strongly believe this is a must-have app for all teens and anyone who's survived high school.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. How funny you shared this today... well actually not funny at all, but a coincidence because I was going to share the video next week. I still might since you didn't link to it. I had no idea that the app had come out and that it was up for a Cybil no less!

    1. ooh, yes -- please do share the video. I find that each version of this poem is powerful in its own right. Would love to hear what young people near you say about it.

  2. So interesting! I have a teen at home and I will share this. Thank you for sharing it with us. =)

    1. Thanks, Bridget -- I'd love to hear what your teen thinks of it.

  3. Sounds powerful. Thanks for letting us know.

  4. Thank you so much for alerting us to this new bookapp. I have just downloaded a copy in my iPad. I would be using the poem for a class that I am teaching that also looks into how literature can be used to address big themes and issues such as bullying. This looks like a powerful book that I can recommend to my teacher-students.

  5. Downloaded it and watched. It was very powerful. Loved how it ended.