It’s hard to be away from the ones we love, especially children! But technology has changed all of that by offering us unique ways to connect with them even if we aren’t able to be in the same room together.
One of things that many children miss doing together with moms, dads or grandparents is reading a bedtime story together every night. In many families this is a tradition that strengthens adult-child bonds. But when you can’t be there to read to them every night a little piece of what makes their world feel comfortable and secure is no longer there. For a child, especially a young one, that can leave a deep void that needs to be filled.
With this in mind, there are several websites that provide adults with a unique twist on traditional story time by means of the glorious amounts of technology we have at our fingerprints – a long distance story time! Not only are these options amazing for connecting with kids, but they also help to add some security to a world where mom or dad can’t be there at that moment -a calming voice when they’re missing you most.
So, without further ado, here are 10 ways to have long distance story time with far away kids:
This iPad app, which launched sometime in 2013, is a magical place where kids and parents (or grandparents) can have interactive video chats together. The site explains that it’s hard to keep kids attention for a very long time while video chatting together, so they set about creating Kindoma so that video chats could be a fun experience rather than a frustrating one.
Kindoma allows its users to read a book together with a child (pictured above) in a very interactive way! From fingers that show where both parent and child are pointing on the screen and a wide selection of books to choose from, to an interface that shows both parent, child and the book they’re reading together Kindoma is a really cool way to create some special memories together!
If you don’t have an iPad or aren’t interested in downloading yet another app, Readeo is another very cool option. Readeo is a self-proclaimed “book chat” that you can use and access right in your Internet browser. That means no downloads or anything! However the convenience of a browser based kids chat is not free and comes a price -though there is a 14 day free trial if you just want to test the service out for a short time.
Readeo lets you share story time with a child in 2 ways: in person and far apart with their book chat! Members pay a small monthly fee and have unlimited access to all of the books in the Readeo Library while Guests can still use Readeo’s services but are limited to the Book of the Month that they can read over video chat with anyone for free. A nice option for someone who isn’t away for long stretches of time don’t you think?
Already standing on its own as a tool that helps make every device kid safe, Zoodles is a great way for parents to connect with kids from afar! In addition to its software and apps that help make the educational process for kids more tech-savvy and fun, Zoodles provides you with 3 additional long distance appropriate features:
Zoodles Storybooks lets grandparents and other family members easily record themselves reading storybooks online for kids to access at any time. Video Mail, a premium only feature, allows you to send video messages to your child’s dashboard to view at any time. And finally, Family Connect literally lets family members connect together via a live webcam storytime session together! How’s that for lots of options?
Caribu is aimed at geographically separated families. It lets parents and children video call and read together no matter where they are. Using this free app means that you ‘llnever miss another story time with the child you love!
In addition to having a virtual story time together, the app also lets you highlight items or words on the book pages so that your child can follow along as you read. Both devices are synced so that the story can be read together in real time. The app comes with 1 free book with many more that you can purchase!
This little app is perfect for Moms, Dads or Grandparents who may not be around as much as they would like, but want to strengthen their relationship with the children by telling a story through the Your StoryTime app.
This easy to use app is full of fun graphics and stories that will allow users to record their voice on each book page, record a video to say hello then tell the story in your own way and in your own voice. The ability to share screens and read together in real time isn’t ready for the public just yet, but this is a great way to share story time together when you can’t be there to read to a child physically.
Story bug is a simple app that lets you read together over the internet. Color coded hands that appear on the screen let parent and child see where either is touching or pointing, so it’s just like reading together and pointing to the photos in a book in person!
The Story Bug app is available for ipads & iphones and offers in-app purchases for additional books to read together. The app comes with 2 books that you can read together for free. Monthly, 6 month and yearly subscriptions are available.
Rootz is another interactive reading app that lets you read a book together with a child over video chat. Unlike the other apps, Rootz is FREE for the first year of use and comes with a selection of preloaded games and apps that you can play together!
The app can be downloaded for ipad for free and while it’s not available for android devices yet, the website states that that feature will be coming soon! So keep a lookout android users!
It’s name a play on “us time,” ustyme is just that, a tool that lets you have some personal time with faraway children and family easily! Much like the apps above, ustyme offers video chat and book reading compatibilities.
“ustyme helps fill the gaps in time that come from not seeing one another in person and builds self-esteem. Research shows that quality time with loved ones, especially parents and grandparents, improves self-esteem, as does a sense of ownership. ustyme provides a platform for both, with the ability to build collections of books and games and share them with family and friends.”
Spark up is a high tech version of a book that plays your voice reading a book as your child turns the pages. Kids set the pace as they turn the pages and Sparkup follows along – even out of order. It’s a great way for kids to hear the voices of the ones they love -even if those loved ones are far away. It also helps make learning to read a lot more fun and may even speed up the process with the help of the familiar voices.
Surprisingly Spark up isn’t limited to a single book. The device lets you connect several different books up to the reading module which then plays the correct story & voice with the book selected. So not only can your child hear your voice, but they can also select different books to hear the voices of any of their loved ones!
Not app exclusive, this cool tool helps you to create pre-recorded bedtime stories for far away children that they can save and cherish for a long time! To use it you simply choose your children’s book to read aloud from the over 200 books available, you can then either send the book to your iPad, or you can record yourself reading it in front of your webcam. When you’re happy with your recording, you enter a message to your recipient to be included with the link to your story which is delivered over the web via email.
The service is not free at $9.99 per story, but paying grants you unlimited replays, recipients and generations so you can keep playing the video for kids, grand kids and great grandkids forever!
A Story Before Bed is a service that lets you record a children’s book online with audio and video. Kids can play back the recording as often as they like on iPad, iPhone, Mac, or PC. They have an impressive library of over 500 books to choose from.
Much like Be There Bedtime Stories highlighted above the service sis not free, but comes at a cheaper price of $9.99 per month of unlimited stories and replays OR $6.99 per story. A Story Before Bed is targeted mostly at military families and even has a program to give away 250,000 free recordings to parents in the U.S. military who are spending time away from their kids.
Hallmark’s Recordable Storybooks are pretty self explanatory! If you’re not very tech savvy and don’t want to deal with apps, gadgets and webcams record a story is a really simple way to “read” with a child when you are unable to do so in person. While the concept is more like reading TO a child, it’s still a very wonderful way to include your presence in the form of your voice when you would otherwise not be physically involved in a child’s life.
Hallmark has several recordable books available for sale -especially some characters your kids are already familiar with like the cast of Toy Story, The Berenstein bears and more! Recording the stories is as simple as pressing the record button on each page and waiting for the beep before reading. Simple!
Flying books is an app that helps children learn to read, and while it is not strictly an app that focuses on connecting people across long distances, it does have some functionality that let’s you accomplish this in a simple way.
The iOS app lets Parents, grandparents, and other loved ones record themselves reading a book and a child can listen to it whenever they like. What I love about this in particular is that it has a feature that lets a child select profiles on a single book. So if, say, your child was reading the three little bears he or she could have the option to have the book read to them in Mom’s voice, Dad’s voice or uncle John’s voice!
Each book costs $0.99 to $2.99 to purchase for your child to read and it appears that all stories have to be narrated from a single device and can’t be sent or received over the internet, but this is still a very cool tool for someone who want’s their kid to feel connected to the WHOLE family!
Quality time is a simply amazing app with LOTS and LOTS of features to make video chatting with a child so much easier. (Short attention spans anyone?) In among its suite is the capability to read books together over skype or google hangouts – 2 tools that Quality Time works in conjunction with.
What’s more, this app is available for both iOS and Android devices for a one time price of $2.99!
A little on the high tech end, if none of the options above appeal to you there’s always the option to podcast a bedtime story for a faraway child. Podcasting is an internet technology that allows users to record and distribute audio to anyone anywhere.
There’s a great tutorial over at Grandparents.com about podcasting long distance bedtime stories to far away children as well as a really well laid out tutorial on how to get started with your first podcast easily!
BONUS: 16. Skype it the old fashioned way
If all else fails and you’re not interested in learning how to operate new tools but would rather stick to the faithful and familiar Skype, you can definitely do so! Sitting with a book in front of a webcam and simply reading to the children you care about may not be anywhere near as high tech and streamlined as some of the options listed above but as one grandmother found out, sometimes the simplest interactions are the best!
We hope you enjoyed this list of 15 ways to have a long distance story time with kids!
So many families, parents and grandparents have a hard time finding ways to connect with their children, so if you know someone who would benefit from the items on this list feel free to share this with them -it may make their long distance journey apart from their children or grandchildren THAT much easier!