“Stories are the currency of life, particularly within families. Parents entertain and educate their kids through stories. And kids contextualise and imagine the world through narrative. It’s how our brains work. For us, the goal was to design a service that made storytelling effortless.” This is the short paragraph explaining why Storybird (http://storybird.com/) has chosen stories as the foundation for the website that is designed to connect kids and families through collaborative story-telling. Because the tradition of families spending quality time together and playing games seems to be disappearing, this is one medium through which families can keep the connection.
Storybirds are short, visual stories with the emphasis on ‘visual’. The format used on the website creates a new market for artists; illustrators; and animators to create the characters and scenarios that bring people’s stories to life. From cute kids to scary monsters, there’s a market for a variety of visions of the world.
The way it works is that two or more people create a Storybid by writing their own text and inserting pictures. Users then have the option of keeping their Storybird private – namely, between the two or more users – or sharing it publicly on the network. The final product can be printed (a feature that will be coming soon); watched on screen; played with like a toy; or shared through a worldwide library.
In four sentences: someone starts a Storybird by writing a few words or inserting a few images. Then the other person takes a turn, adding more words and pictures. In as little as one or two turns they can finish and share a Storybird. And they can do it sitting side-by-side or across the country.
Besides family activities, the website also serves as a publishing platform for writers and artists by enabling them to experiment; publish their stories; and connect with their fans. ‘No more no’s’ is the motto here, where editors; art directors; gallery owners; or producers say ‘no’. Storybird provides members with tools to subscribe to an artist’s shop and follow their characters.
Benefits for kids using Storybird are that it promotes imagination; literacy; and self-confidence. Kids who play with words and pictures early in life tend to score higher in cognitive and aptitude tests later on. They read and draw more, and are better able to understand concepts and ideas. Lastly, they become comfortable with the act of creation: turning nothing into something.
Making, sharing, and reading Storybirds online is free and will always be free. Printing and premium services—when we introduce them later this year—will have a fee associated with them.
If you’re the creative type, or is one who has always wanted to try but been too shy, here’s your chance to play around and explore your creativity. You never know what results you will stumble upon!