Once Upon a Storytime

Once upon a (Story)time…
As a pre-schooler, my mother always read me a story in the afternoons. Hearing the words “once upon a time” told me I was about to see the world through a different window for a while. I loved Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and The Magic Porridge Pot, but I also enjoyed tales from other lands. Aschenputtel was as real to me as Cinders. I was especially fascinated by the glass slipper. (It didn’t seem safe to me, even as a child, let alone practical.) In some countries the heroines wore much more sensible fur shoes or bootees, and in some versions, like Raisel, shoes really weren’t much of a feature. 
As I got older, I loved being let loose in the library – and as an adult I adore being able to carry a library around with me in electronic form on my tablet or Smartphone. As there are now more eBooks out there than ever, it can, however, sometimes be difficult to find a suitable story. In my household there are two “mother tongues”, English and Afrikaans, and it isn’t always easy to find appropriate books for both.
Curated collections of tales offer a win-win situation. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so storytelling sessions using eBooks offer the perfect way to help children, grandchildren, and our other “nearest and dearest” develop oral and listening language skills.
You can easily zoom in, make images brighter, and see the shape of the words and letters. Or you can hide the text and ask the child to describe the story, or the characters, or the colours, or other features appropriate to their vocabulary level.  Then there are the different characters, and how they speak. Each one has a different and unique voice and way of using words.  “Doing the voices” and sound effects has to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of reading a story out loud, for both tale-tellers and listeners.  
Mantralingua already has over 500 titles in its ebook collection, and more titles are being added all the time. E-books can be borrowed from the library for a month and then returned – perfect for those who love to hear new stories regularly and a very cost-effective approach.
Recent research, carried out by expert neuroscientists and paediatricians, confirms the effectiveness of the warmth of a human voice telling a story when it comes to developing essential parts of the brain, empathy and lifelong social skills.
So whether it’s “once upon a time”, “il était une fois”, “dawno temu”, or “Ek deshe chhilo”, find a comfortable spot, curl up, open an eBook, and tell a child a story.
Mendelsohn, A.L. et al (2018), Reading Aloud, Play, and Social-Emotional Development, Pediatrics 141 (5), http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/141/5/e20173393 [accessed 12 February 2019]

Bergland, C. (2014), Can Reading a Fictional Story Make You More Empathetic? Psychology Today, 1 December 2014, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201412/can-reading-fictional-story-make-you-more-empathetic [accessed 12 February 2018]

Gurdon, M.C. (2019), The Secret Power of the Children’s Picture Book, Wall Street Journal, 18 January 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-secret-power-of-the-childrens-picture-book-11547824940 [accessed 12 February 2019] (Registration may be required to view the full article)