Each child’s interests and abilities vary, and though there are some interests that overlap, only a few common activities seem to be universal. “Story time” is a perfect example of a well-known and beneficial part of the day for many children and their families alike due to the quiet opportunity it provides to connect with one another and the world, while exploring a child’s imagination. Tapping into fantasy worlds and providing helpful messaging about life makes storytelling an invaluable tool that combines fun with function. Children with special needs can especially benefit from storytelling, which makes it important to our organization to help families access online storytelling options to expand the world for your child.
In this busy world, sitting down to tell a story for an hour (or more) every day may not be an option for parents of special children. Fortunately, supplementing an in-person story with audio stories during ‘bedtime’ is becoming more possible due to advances in technology. Use of smart devices like the Google Home system or Amazon’s speaker options, for example, can bridge the gap between thousands of stories and your household. For decades, records and tapes were the only option for sharing an audio story for children without leaving a television on. Now, with the availability of these smart devices, parents have the ability to set a timer and allow their child’s imagination to run wild while they are relaxed and comfortable in bed.
With that said, here are some unique options available to supplement or, when needed, substitute for your family’s normal storytelling efforts:
- YouTube: The popular video platform does not have to be used solely for visual purposes! Placing a phone or tablet face-down and allowing a playlist (like this one) to run on a timer can be a helpful way to explore new stories and at no cost to you. When possible, we recommend using the YouTube Kids app as it will more carefully monitored for content (though not all children’s stories available on the main site will be available on the Kids app).
- Audible: While typically a subscription-based model, the popular audio book platform provides children’s stories absolutely free while schools are closed. This can be a great opportunity to explore new content or ideas that your child has shown interest in, while also finding out if a potential subscription down the road will be a good fit.
- Storynory: Providing free children’s stories to download, this site may not be an ideal streaming solution, however it could make creating a playlist on an MP3/smart device an option. The ability to access some of the most renowned stories from your childhood and perhaps children of the generations before you is an excellent way to pass on your favorite characters and adventures and connect with your child!
- Project Gutenberg: Making access to public domain books a simple process, this organization/site features both eBooks and audio books. The diverse collection of content makes this digital library an excellent tool for years to come as a child’s interests vary and reading level expands over time.
- Librivox and LoyalBooks: Similar to Project Gutenberg, these sites house both eBooks and audio recreations of public domain stories. The catalog of Librovox is broken down in a user-friendly manner, allowing parents to easily explore content by subject matter, literary style, genre, and more. For children who wish to ‘judge a book by its cover,’ the interface of LoyalBooks displays the stories available can be helpful for parents trying to quickly select the right audiobook for their child.
- Storyline Online: An excellent blend of audio storytelling and visual presentations, this site features well-known celebrities and public figures reading storybooks, bringing a ‘guest storyteller’ into your home adding novelty and excitement to story time.
- Spotify: While a subscription-based service, there are a variety of children’s books available. Working with nearly every smart device that offers streaming services, parents who already use the program to access music and podcasts could find the children’s book options helpful. Additionally, access to ambient or white sound playlists offers another useful aid based upon your child’s interests night-to-night. The family subscription plan allows multiple accounts to play at once.
We would never recommend a parent outsource the special opportunity that storytelling offers to bond with their child. Instead, we hope that this list of options can be a helpful substitute, or supplement, for your family. All children, not just those with special needs, can benefit from the lessons and escapism available in children’s books. We feel that each of the options above provides a unique opportunity to help children engage in online storytelling.
Questions about additional resources that may be available for your child with Cerebral Palsy? Call us at (800) 692-4453 or fill out our online form to learn more about how MyChild has assisted thousands of families like yours in accessing resources, programs, assistance and more.