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Article  •  20 October 2020


Read-aloud from afar this Christmas

A step-by-step guide to creating a virtual storytime for the kids you’re missing this holiday season.

So many of us are missing loved-ones this Christmas. Whether they’re overseas or interstate, it’s easier than ever before to connect with the little ones via virtual storytimes wherever you are. Real-time or recorded, there’s any number of free and simple ways to make it happen. Here we offer up two easy ways to share the stories you know they’ll love this Christmas.

1. Live via chat
There’s no doubt ‘Zoom’ will be going down as one of the words of 2020. And for good reason. Video communications applications like Zoom, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype – you name it – allow for real-time ‘meetings’ while we’re working (or, in this case, playing) remotely. Simply choose an app that works for you and your remote family members, set up a call, turn on your device’s video capability and you’re away. If you want to get creative with it, try our Penguin Zoom backgrounds.

Pros: It’s live, so you can feel the connection from afar.

Cons: It’s live, so when things get glitchy, and the kids wander off… You know what they say about working with animals and children?

2. Recorded to play back again (and again)
Now, there are any number of video tutorials, nifty gizmos and platforms to help get this done. We’re going to keep it simple and go with your basic device (smartphone, tablet, laptop etc) video recorder function along with a video-sharing platform like YouTube. You might have a preference for another platform, or a snazzy camera to use, and that’s fine too. Choose the tech that works for you.

Step 1: Setup your recording device
On a Mac you might have QuickTime, and for Windows it’s as simple as typing ‘camera’ in your search bar. Whatever video recording application you have installed is fine to use here. Place your device on a flat surface in a well-lit space, preferably with a light-coloured background. Arrange a chair so you get yourself and your book in the frame. Bingo bango! You’re set to go.

Step 2: Record yourself reading the book
Get zany! Do the voices. Read slowly. And, most importantly, have fun. And remember: start with a few seconds recording the cover of the book – that way YouTube will create a thumbnail the kids can tell apart from all of your other (future) storytime videos. Once you’re done, save the video file to your desktop, ready for upload.

Step 3: Upload to YouTube
First, you’ll need a YouTube (or your preferred platform) account. It’s all pretty simple, click here if you need a run-down. Once inside YouTube, click the ‘create’ button on top right of your screen. Drag and drop your video, choose a thumbnail, give it a name and description and it’s ready to share. Make sure your channel is private, so you’re not sharing publically (so you're not encroaching on any author or publisher copyright). Then copy and share the link with the kids you’re missing.

If you want to go nuts with graphics, animations, titles and the like, the sky’s the limit! The internet is full of useful how-tos and tutorials to help you dress it up as much as you like. But really, what can be better than the kids nestling in and listening as a remote loved-one shares a fabulous story? If you need a little inspiration, take a look at these stories read aloud from some of our mates.

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