Let’s face it. Bedtime reading requires energy that you sometimes don’t have especially if your commute home from work takes at least two hours. And when your child requests you to read the same book for the nth time, you dream of days when you can ask someone...to read to you.
So when we saw this video by Storyteller MNL, shared by a friend on Facebook, our exact stream of thought was: “Wait a minute, I can use this. This is a virtual babysitter. And I don’t even have to feel guilty that I need to use an iPad or a smart phone!”
There’s not much happening in the video itself, just a hand turning the book’s pages. But it's when you hear the voice reading the book out loud that makes the pages come alive. This way, you yourself really get into the story and be transported into the book's world along with your child. Ideally, you have a hard copy of the book with you, but it can work even without one.
Th man behind the voice (and Storyteller MNL) is Gutch Gutierrez whose day job is a commercial voice artist (so, yes, he’s got that skill over us). When he made the video there had been no intention of replacing parents as bedtime storytellers. On the contrary, his goal has always been to introduce Filipino parents to more local children’s books and read them to their kids.
As much as I'm doing the storytelling on the video, there's just a lot of magic lost when it's across the screen. Iba yung magic ng hardcopy especially when the story is being told by the dad or mom,” he tells us. “And those are the sweetest memories growing up. Nothing beats storytelling by a voice that you're familiar with and loved by.”
Gutch started with a book he personally liked, “When Zero Left Numberland” from Adarna House, which he bought off the shelf a few months ago. Then it was “Ang Batang Ayaw Maligo” (the book in the video above), which was published by OMF Literature. Gutch, who will be a first-time dad by the end of the year, doesn’t get paid by these publishing houses. “I only read books that I like so for now, I'm quite happy finding, selecting, and buying them myself.
Of course, we couldn’t let Gutch go without asking for storytelling tips. His answer was immediate: it shouldn’t be about technique but more of how you can make it a wonderful bonding experience. “Go all out! Get really IN the story even if you look like a fool. And lastly, impart upon them a sense of wonder. That's really the gist of why we do storytelling so we can expand children's ability to imagine and wonder.”