I think I’m what the internets would call a media-cautious parent. Basically, I’m careful about what my children see on (computer or television or handheld) screens, because I’m often not crazy about what’s playing on those screens or the way they engage or disengage my boys, as the case may be. In our house, we are contented to live without cable (a decision that long preceded parenthood), and use our old TV to play the occasional DVD.
But I had wondered about good quality storytelling on audio, like a radio program. The same issues arose around content though, and as I didn’t take the time to delve into the possibilities, it left my mind.
But I’ve recently discovered Sparkle Stories*, an online source for audio stories for children (they also have a lovely blog, which sometimes features written stories). Its husband and wife creators promise that each week its listeners will receive an original and entertaining story for up to six different storylines. Told by the husband, a Waldorf teacher, these stories are designed to nurture the imagination and foster a sense of wonder in the world.
So we gave a try to Martin and Sylvia, a series about a brother and sister, geared for 4-8 year olds, and I think we’ve hit on a success.
I have a confession: I haven’t listened to completion any of the stories we’ve played so I can’t tell you more. That’s because I was working, or cooking, or tending to my other kids. Because the reality is that a good part of the attraction of Sparkle Stories, like its media counterparts, is that is buys a divided parent a bit of time. But for me, the media-cautious parent, the other major appeal is that I don’t feel like I need to know more about the stories, because I trust the source.
While my 5 year old didn’t turn somersaults in the air after his first story, he has quietly asked for it again and again. And that’s another thing I like about our experience with the Sparkle Stories. There’s no gimmick or glamour, just a good tale told well. It doesn’t overpower the listener or lull him into a trance. But when I watch my son gaze out the window during for the duration of an entire story, I’m quite sure his heart and mind are going to intriguing places, and kind of wish I could follow along with them.
* Sparkle Stories doesn’t know about me. I’m just telling you about them because I like them.