Hey, everybody! I’m so excited to introduce an amazing website you might not have heard of before: READ ME A STORY, INK.
Robert Topp runs the Hermitage bookstore in Denver Colorado, but a few years ago he started the READ ME A STORY, INK website to give teachers, parents, librarians and kids the chance to read some of the great children’s stories from magazines like Highlights and the Cricket Magazine Group. Robert has indexed by topic, age range, and author more than 1,560 of short stories and put them all in one place. What a great resource!
You know what else is super cool? Robert reads aloud dozens of the stories, recording them in his wonderful, warm voice with special sound effects. Each story only takes a few minutes and can be used at home with your own kids in a variety of scenarios. Perhaps you’d like your children – or students – to do something besides watch television or glued to the iPad or computer screen. Perhaps you don’t have time to read aloud to them. Perhaps they’re in the early learning stages of reading, and listening to a wonderful story (especially for kids with short attention spans) is a great alternative. Listen to stories in the car while running errands or during road trips.
All the recordings can be found on the website, absolutely free.
I met Robert a few months ago when he contacted me to get copies of my stories that were published in Cricket Magazine several years ago–and he recorded some of them! What a treat to hear my stories read aloud in his wonderful, warm voice. Listen in on our conversation . . .
Robert: Many years ago when my kids were in elementary school, I started reading to both of their classes once a week. Reading aloud was a nightly activity in our house so taking it into the school was a natural progression. After they graduated – they are now 31 and 29 – a few of the teachers that had taught our kids asked me if I would like to continue reading aloud. Once word got around the school, other teachers asked if I would read to their classes as well. I currently read to 13 classes, first through fifth grades. I started to collect and specialize in short stories because I only read to any given class once a month and I don’t have the continuity or time for chapter books.
Kimberley: How did you come up with the idea to create the website?
Robert: As my collection of short stories grew, I found it increasingly difficult to remember which book contained the stories I wanted to share. I started an index for my own use but when it grew to over 800 stories, I realized there might be some value in the index for teachers and parents. With the help of a friend, I turned the index into a website. As with most projects, Read Me a Story, Ink started to grow in numerous directions. I added recommended reading lists based on family and personal favorites, then links to other children’s sites I personally found useful. Stories that were in the public domain I added as printable stories and eventually started contacting current authors for permission to include their stories. The latest offshoot is audio stories.
Kimberley: Where does your love for children’s literature come from?
Robert: When our first child, Harrison, was born in 1986, I bought Harrison and myself matching t-shirts that read, “If you love me, read me a story.” I thought it good advice and reading aloud became a nightly routine continuing until the boys were in their mid-teens. The love for the literature was coincident with the shared journey of discovery with our kids. Since I own a rare and out-of-print bookshop we always had a wonderful flow of books to choose from. To this day my wife and I and the boys all recommend books to each other constantly. I still have the t-shirt.
Kimberley: Tell us about the process of recording the stories on audio. They are SO well done and beautiful! Are you the narrator in all of them? Do you have your own studio?
Robert: When I first thought to add audio selections to Read Me a Story, Ink, a friend suggested a share-ware audio program called Audacity put together by a team of sound engineers. That, some good advice from the folks at Guitar Center on microphones, and the gift of a sound deadening backdrop from my wife and I had my own 8 x 8 ft studio. Since my site is not commercial, I can’t afford to pay professionals to read so I do all of the narration. I do have a friend that I pay to do musical introductions but beyond that I am a one-man band.
Kimberley: What’s the most rewarding part of running the website?
Robert: Next to the time spent in classrooms reading to kids, by far the most rewarding part of creating and maintaining Read Me a Story, Ink is the contact I have with authors, parents and teachers who share a common interest in children’s and YA literature.
Kimberley: Do you ever get to meet the authors that you feature in person? Any fun stories to share?
Robert: Sadly, though I consider many of the authors that I correspond with good friends, my contact remains virtual with one exception. I kept running into stories in Cricket Magazine by an author named Robert Culp. I absolutely loved the warmth and humor in his stories about best friends Cotton and Rooster set in 1940’s Arkansas. For two years I periodically did Google searches trying to find something about the author but all I ever turned up was an astro-physics professor. In one final, last ditch effort I paged down seemingly countless pages in my Google search and discovered that the professor was, in fact, the author of the Cotton and Rooster stories. I contacted him via his Facebook page only to discover that he was a professor in Boulder, Colorado, just a few miles from my store. Within the week we met at the store to our mutual delight.
Reading aloud is one of the absolute nicest activities for adults and children to share. It creates warm bonds, opens a child’s mind to new ideas, forms topics of discussion thus keeping lines of communication open and creates a positive role model for the child to become a lifetime reader.
Thank you so much for being with us today, Robert, and please check out Read Me a Story Ink! everyone! Let Robert read a story to your kids, students, or library patrons today!
Printable stories page: https://readmeastoryink.com/readnow.php
Audio stories page: https://readmeastoryink.com/listennow.php
Rattlesnake Rain by Kimberley Griffiths Little Audio: https://readmeastoryink.com/sounds/rattlesnake_rain.mp3
Banat er Rih: Daughter of the Wind by Kimberley Griffiths Little Print https://readmeastoryink.com/stories/banat_er_rih.pdf
Kimberley Griffiths Little is the award-winning author of ten Middle-Grade and Young Adult novels with Scholastic and Harpercollins. She’s been juggling drafting new book proposals, eating too many cookies, and wrangling a household that never sleeps . . . On location book trailers and Teacher’s Guides at Kimberley’s website: www.KimberleyGriffithsLittle.com. Friend her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kimberleygriffithslittle