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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Read them a story, even when you're far away

My kids love getting packages from their aunt, and with good reason. For several years now she's recorded CDs of herself reading children's books aloud and sent them to the kids along with a copy of the book. They love to pop in the CDs and read along. And when she comes to visit they're tickled to hear her read live and in person. It's like the preschool version of a celebrity visit.

The new online storytime service A Story Before Bed builds on her idea--only simplifying the process (hurray!) and taking it digital. On the A Story Before Bed website, you use your webcam to record a video of yourself reading a story from their collection. The child sees the book on their screen alongside your video (check out a demo). They can even click to turn the pages themselves--if they skip ahead in the book, the video skips ahead with them, just like you would if they were sitting in your lap. The video stays in their virtual "bookshelf," where they can watch it as often as they like.

Payment isn't required until you're ready to send off your recording to the lucky kiddo, so you can browse through and record (and re-record, for you perfectionists) as many books as you like before committing. They're still adding books to their titles list, but there some cute options there.

It's a personal, eco-friendly, and inexpensive gift idea for young children. And a clever way to love on kids who are far away, whether you're an out-of-state relative or just a parent who can't be at home one night. They also offer free recordings to deployed members of the U.S. military, to give them one more way to stay connected with their children back home. When you can't be at their bedside, sometimes being inside their computer is the next best thing.

$7 at A Story Before Bed

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