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Read about innovative uses of Skype, user stories and more



Storytelling over Skype

World Book Day (March 1, 2012) and Read Across America Week (February 27 – March 3) have just passed. Take a look at how people used Skype video calls to spread your love of reading, and how you can do the same.

World Book Day

Every first of March, people across the globe celebrate books, reading and storytelling as a part of World Book Day. Adults take part by reading stories to their kids, grandkids, friends and family, and kids read, write their own stories, and learn more about storytelling and important authors at school.

Skype and the tradition of storytelling

Nowadays, reading and writing are such a large part of daily life that we take them for granted. It’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t have an alphabet or a system for writing, and instead relied on using songs, poems, and the spoken word to remember and pass down stories. Scientists and academics refer to this period in history as the ‘Age of Orality’ – when stories were performed publicly as art, and relied on complex rhyming systems and memorable descriptions instead of paper and pen, a quill and ink, or even a chisel and tablet.

However, academics like Walter J. Ong think that the internet and today’s communication technologies are helping revive the art of oral storytelling that was so popular centuries before the idea of writing had ever occurred. We think Skype, along with video blogs, audio uploads, and YouTube videos, are playing a huge part in that change by making it easier for us to talk to each other and share stories and act out tales, face to face, wherever we are.

Inspiring stories from this Wold Book Day

This past month we’ve heard some amazing stories about people taking advantage of Skype to enrich their reading experience. Author A. Lee Martinez sat down for a chat with fans, From the Mixed Up Files had author Sheela Chari visit a group of middle school students, Canonsburg Middle School chatted with the author of “How to Survive Middle School” as part of the Cover2Cover program, and we even heard about book readings and author chats being organized over Facebook.

Tips for storytelling while you video call

Even though World Book Day has come and gone, you can still celebrate the art of storytelling with Skype, whether it’s reading your kids a bedtime story from afar or sharing the idea for your latest novel with a friend.

• Don’t just read or speak – act as well
If you’re telling a story face-to-face or over video call, it’s really important to be confident and act out the story – change your expression and adopt different voices. If you’re too nervous to read the whole book out loud, get your audience involved. You could all read together or start a group video call and take on parts as if you were acting out a play.

• Be creative
You can use Skype to get creative with your storytelling. You can share music and use it as a soundtrack – try spooky music for scarier tales or strings for ‘ye olde worlde’ tales. Or screen share to show images, illustrations, or letters that’ll add to your tale – for example, you could show a picture of the real Wild West if you’re reading out a Western-style story or a map if you’re reading out a story that involves a lot of travel.

• Add some atmosphere
Create an atmosphere using anything at your disposal. For example, if you’re telling a spooky or magical story, why not carefully drape a coloured cloth over a lamp to give the room you’re calling from a special glow?

Some books to read to get you started

You don’t need the excuse of World Book Day to start reading. Rhyming stories or poems are great for younger kids (and for grown-ups who don’t have time to read a long book or story). Try rhyming with some Dr Seuss or Shel Silverstein.

Or you could try reading something that’s inspired a popular movie – like a fairy tale, the Harry Potter books, or the Chronicles of Narnia.

What’s your favorite story to tell over video call? Do you use Skype to read to your kids or grandkids? Please leave a comment and let us know…

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