Storytelling Month at Minilab!
March kicked off with World Book Day (and the launch of the latest Astro Cat book!), and it will close with the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. So, what better month to celebrate the power of stories? Find out about our story, what’s coming up, and why we think storytelling is so important for kids…
The Minilab Story
If you’re new to our blog, you might not know where Minilab came from! Our co-founders actually planted the seed within Flying Eye Books, the children’s imprint of Nobrow Press. Our debut app was an adaptation of ‘Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space’! So, although our focus is on digital, we have a soft spot for traditional storytelling too. Astro Cat’s Solar System is an astronomy app that takes kids on a non-linear exploration of the planets, Sun, Moon, and space travel. There’s plenty to read and learn, with quizzes at the end of each section, and a final goal of building your very own rocket. Oh, and to let you in on a secret – we’ve got an interview with one of Astro Cat’s book creators coming later this month, to give you an insight into non-fiction storytelling.
Stories can be told in so many different ways since the advent of digital media. If your child has a story to tell, they can do so with words, drawings, microphones, video cameras, phones, games and more. And if you’re wondering how storytelling through programming is beneficial to kids, we had a think about it a couple of weeks ago! Kids are growing up with television, YouTube videos, and live streaming as a natural part of their lives. Being able to differentiate between fiction and non-fiction, advertising and genuine content, is all essential for the future.
Apps for tablets are a great kid-friendly way of introducing digital media. They also give us a chance to experiment with how we tell our stories. Our second app, Artie’s Magic Pencil, follows a linear tale about dot-to-dot drawing that lends itself to playing together as a family, but there’s one difference – there’s no text! Adventures like Artie’s help children to understanding a story in a more image-focused setting, which is great for visual literacy. As your child works their way through the drawings, try talking about what’s happening and let them take the lead on creating a narrative.
The power of the story
But why is it so important to tell stories? For a start, it’s a way of sharing useful knowledge. Many fairytales warn children against certain behaviours, like running off alone, or talking to strangers. These stories have purpose, but they’re also enjoyable. And that’s the other must for a good story – they’re fun! It’s very freeing to imagine a world unconstrained by the rules of our own, and imagination (as any parent will know) is a huge part of child development. Whether you read together before bed, make up stories round the dinner table, or experiment with tech too, every story you tell is teaching your child and encouraging their creativity. And that we can’t advocate enough!