The Benefactory began working with volunteer groups early in 1994, with the purpose of developing a program that would train and equip any volunteer to schedule, organize, host and conduct effective, fun, interactive read-aloud events for groups of young children. "Storytelling" has come to mean the art of telling a story extemporaneously, and storytellers frequently use costumes and props to increase the dimensionality of their storytellings, or to hold the attention of a wriggly group of small children. We mean something else. We mean, that from the beginning of time, humans of any age have known the magic of listening to a good story that is read aloud to them. Stories can hypnotize, educate, and transport listeners to new realms. Stories are one of the most important ways in which children learn - and learn to care.

A key component of effective storytelling is having a good story to tell. Our own authors have worked with The America Reads Challenge, and with The Girl Scouts of The USA, to tell our true stories about animals to children in schools and libraries nationwide. They read to more than 30,000 children in one year, earning a personal letter of thanks from President Clinton. It has been our authors' experience that children from any socio-economic group love true stories about real animals. These stories touch their hearts. Children come into the world feeling connected to living creatures, and can relate to stories of rescued strays, or endangered species. Our stories are intended to model core values, to provide positive examples of people who are doing good things to help care for and protect animals of all kinds.

All parents know how powerful and cozy is that time every day when they curl up with their children for some quality laptime and a good story. Children who become good readers invariably tell us there was someone who read to them in early childhood. But in these increasingly harried and insular times, families have many challenges: single parent households; both parents working full-time; parents working more than one job - with the result that few parents are able to find the time to read to and with their children. It shocked us to discover how few children are being read to at home anymore. It is no accident that literacy scores continue to plummet.

For this reason, ReadPlay has worked with volunteer groups, and with The America Reads Challenge, to develop Storytelling Kits. These Kits are intended to provide all the tools necessary for volunteers to learn to conduct effective read-aloud sessions for children ages 5 - 10.

It is our intention to identify corporate partners so that these non-profit volunteer groups can be given the storytelling kits free of charge. Until the corporate partners have been identified, ReadPlay is making Storytelling Kits available to volunteer groups at a highly discounted cost, as follows. Please contact ReadPlay directly to purchase Storytelling Kits by calling (847) 848-8727.

Each Storytelling Kit Contains:

Demonstration Video

Provides an example of effective storytelling
Authors teach new storytellers how to involve children, hold their attention, and have fun

Storytelling Guide/Training Manual featuring:

Training material to enable any volunteer to conduct a storytelling
Scripts for interactive dialogue to set the context and follow-up for each story
Activity page masters for every story, so children can share the learning and fun at home with their families

Lending Library for the children

20 read-along books per title for children to share and use to follow the story

Hardcover books for the storyteller

One per title to read from

Each story on audiocassette

One cassette per title, with Tom Chapin's narration and music
Storage Container

Item # SK1 $195 (a $500 value)
Titles included:

Wolves in Yellowstone
Chessie, The Travelin' Man

Item # SK2 $295 (a $ 975 value)
Titles included:

Jasmine Bentley and Blueberry
Ruffle, Coo and Hoo Doo Chessie, The Travelin' Man
Wolves in Yellowstone Hope

To order these kits, please contact ReadPlay directly by calling (847) 848-8727.

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