BinoBooks launching their customizable book “Humans Can’t Fly, But They Can”

(BinoBooks is a new e-book start-up that customizes children’s stories. BinoBooks was created by Sydney Terry, Danielle Baxter, Jessica Dassanayake, and, bottom photo, Samantha Dassanayake. The Dassanayake sisters are Stittsville area residents.)

BinoBooks is a new startup that creates personalized e-storybooks that facilitate conversations between parents and their young children on complex topics. BinoBooks was founded by three recent Queen’s University graduates, Jess Dassanayake, Danielle Baxter and Sydney Terry. Samantha Dassanayake, a student at Sacred Heart High School, is the Marketing Coordinator for Bino Books. Team members and sisters Samantha and Jessica (who graduated from Sacred Heart in 2016) are from the Stittsville area.

Along with a team of software developers, BinoBooks started as a solution for young families during COVID-19, but it has since expanded. The idea has won multiple pitch competitions, with the most notable being the DDQIC Summer Pitch Competition where the team won the grand prize of $20,000. The award allowed the BinoBooks aspiring entrepreneurs to develop an idea, hone their skills, and refine their business plans.

Stittsville Central wanted to know more about these young women entrepreneurs, how they came together and the inspiration to write on complex issues through a family friendly venue.

When the pandemic began, co-founders of BinoBooks, Jess Dassanayake, Danielle Baxter, and Sydney Terry, found themselves, like many, without work. A new program was being offered by Queen’s University, the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) called SpreadInnovation, a summer incubator program with a goal of supporting students as they developed solutions to problems that emerged from the pandemic. As Queen’s students, Danielle had previously been a student coordinator for the DDQIC summer programs and Jess had previously participated in DDQIC’s Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Inititative (QICSI) in 2020. It was the pandemic that brought the team together with the addition of Sydney to form their team for SpreadInnovation and they spent the summer building BinoBooks.

Samantha told us of the work involved to bring their first book “Humans Can’t Fly, But They Can” to reality, “After starting the SpreadInnovation program, the co-founders brainstormed which vulnerable population they would like to help, and decided on young families. Whether it was Sydney being a long-time camp counsellor, or Jess’ love for her young niece and nephews, each co-founder had a deep connection to children. In particular, Jess had multiple conversations with her cousin, who said her 3-year-old couldn’t comprehend what the pandemic was and why it was
preventing their family from visiting Jess and her family.

“Following the design thinking methodology, we held empathy interviews with parents of young children to understand their pain points during the pandemic. The recurring sentiment was that existing resources on COVID-19 were too scientific, not age-appropriate, too scary, and not engaging for young children.

“From there, the co-founders brainstormed solutions and arrived at the idea of customizable e-storybooks on COVID-19. Sydney’s father used to illustrate stories for her when she was younger, and the thought was that this way of engaging children could be carried over to COVID-19. The COVID-19 book was an MVP (minimum viable product),
illustrated by Sydney and Jess.
They manually customized e-storybooks for a number of families to test the idea and
validate assumptions about whether this solution was the right solution. The e-storybook route was chosen as
opposed to physical books due to increased evidence of children gravitating towards technology.
BinoBooks wants to keep costs down so that they can get books into the hands of as many people as possible, so
digital storybooks made sense.

After validating this idea with a COVID-19 book, BinoBooks realized this idea could be expanded to other complex
Following their win at the DDQIC Summer Pitch Competition in 2020, the team spent the next year developing
their first product to be sold on the market, “Humans Can’t Fly, But They Can”, a book focused on appreciating all the cool things bodies can do
. Using the seed funding they won from pitch competitions, they hired an illustrator to bring the story to life.”

BinoBooks is trying to reinvent reading by ensuring kids are represented in their e-books by including their name and pronouns in the story and designing characters that look like them and Bino Books don’t shy away from tough topics. Parents can complete a form that asks for the child’s name, pronouns, hair colour and style, skin tone, eye colour and whether the child uses any additional accessories such as glasses. An additional goal is to raise further funds to spend more on illustrations to ensure that all children are represented in their readings. From the form, BinoBooks will adjust the text to include the child’s name and pronouns with the character customized to reflect the child’s identity.

The December 4 launch of their e-book, “Humans Can’t Fly, But They Can”, will take place on Kickstarter. The team is looking to raise funds to put towards book development and customization software. Making a donation gives you early access to their e-storybook, as well as a limited edition physical storybook of “Humans Can’t Fly, But They Can”. Every “backer” will receive a reward, ranging from sticker sheets to the opportunity to choose our next storybook topic. To donate and receive notification of the book launch, sign-up at the following link:

The “Humans Can’t Fly, But They Can” e-book is focused on body image and body confidence; instead of talking about how bodies look, the book encourages the child to appreciate all the cool things bodies can do. To discover more about BinoBooks, visit their website at


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