Tomorrow is my girls’ last day of school this year, and then the summer holiday begin. We’ve a summer full of stories planned and as part of that we’ll be following Storycloud, a free online library of brand new short stories for 5 – 8 year olds and their families, written by some of the very best children’s writers in the UK.
The authors include Michael Rosen, Malorie Blackman, David Almond, Philip Ardagh, Jamila Gavin, Debi Gliori, Candy Gourlay and Andy Stanton, and the stories they have written can either be read on screen, printed off, or listened to read by the authors themselves. The tales have been written very much with “what next?” in mind – each includes prompts to encourage children to create their own stories and drawings in response to what they read/listen to; although the stories are self contained, they are written in such a way to spark ideas and get juices flowing.
Once you’ve enjoyed the weekly story (released every Monday) you then get to see an illustration to go with that week’s story. As with the writing, top talent has been drawn upon to create these digital pictures, including Guy Parker-Rees, Chris Riddell, David Roberts, David Melling, Deborah Allwright and Sarah McIntyre. The images are minimally animated – each has a sprinkling of secrets which you can search for by clicking with your mouse.
Here’s the full line up of stories (some of which are already available):
I’ve been lucky enough to have a sneak preview of all the stories and illustrations, and I’ve been delighted with what I’ve seen and read. It’s great to hear the authors themselves read their stories, and I also like the pdfs you can print out – in addition to the story, they also contain author/illustrator biographies, books recommended by the authors and illustrators, plus the prompts to get you writing drawing (and details of how to submit them to the StoryCloud Gallery).
The level of animation may come as a surprise to some parents and children – it really is just a case of moving the mouse and clicking a few times – but this has been a very conscious decision by the creators. In their words:
As more and more publishers and games makers create digital content for children, we believe that there is a danger that the story gets lost in the dazzle of new technology and interactive elements. It can seem that the purpose of the latest e-book or app is to demonstrate the latest coding and technological development rather than find the best way to tell the story. The aim with StoryCloud has been to create a digital experience that encourages children to slow down to listen/read the story. Only after they have heard the story do they get to play with the illustration which in turn leads to prompts to encourage children to write or draw their own stories.
So don’t expect an all-singing, all-dancing online game / book App experience, but do expect to discover some delightful, funny stories including everything from flying horses and disobedient children to cheating cheetahs and disappearing babies. I know this will be a great resource this rain and story filled summer!