In a virtual world, parents are striving to strike a balance between the need for a personal connection and the prerequisite to learn. While school learning comes with its own set of rules, extracurricular learning is an area where parents can get creative and let their own imagination and that of the child guide them in creating new and exciting means to learn.
There is no better way to learn than through stories. Many schools of education would agree with this thought. Especially Indian parents would agree because oral storytelling is such a big part of our culture. Remember your Nani’s soft hands stroking your hair, while she told you native folklore? And where are those stories now? They are in the collective memories of all who might have heard them. Author Sue Monk Kidd said, “Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” So, as parents, it is our moral obligation to pass these stories on. And as Indians with a rich and complex culture to share, stories can be the creative building blocks to share this treasure of information.
In a search to limit screen time and yet not disclude the benefits of technology, I hunted for the best audio stories on the internet that share the riches of Indian culture. They are reminiscent of the soft voice of our childhoods: reading or narrating a story, very personal and very human.
Here’s my list:
Ancient Indian Wisdom
Baalgatha literally means Children’s stories. This podcast brings to you hundreds of stories with morals, ranging from Panchatantra, Jataka, and Hitopadesha stories to many more. These are stories that are not only entertaining but definitely have an educational value.
Baalgatha is available in English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, and Kannada languages. The stories are short and can hold the attention of younger kids. A perfect start to texts like Panchtantra and to introduction to Indian languages.
Audible India: The Jungle Book
Audible India has several children’s stories including Panchtantra, Akbar Birbal and many classical Indian tales. I was elated to find the Jungle Book on Audible India, this production is the Winner of the 2016 Audie Award for Best Audio Drama and the 2016 Audie Award for Excellence in Production. Magically narrated and completely transportive, while this production is more suitable for older kids, it will be a delight for parents as well.
New Original Audio stories
Rhea Pechter’s podcast is an internet phenomenon. Little Stories for Tiny People is downloaded over 130,000 times per month and has been featured in School Library Journal, Mashable, Time Out New York, Common Sense Media, and Parents.com. While her stories are for older children, they are innovative, fun and full of animal adventure that is set in America. Divided by themes like bedtime, family, life changes, this podcast is into its ninth season! Based on the response Rhea recently published her book Little Fox Can’t Wait to Dream.
Lori is a five-story collection by first time writer Ratna Goradia. What stands out about these stories is their simple originality, and their ability to transport listeners into the innocent times back in India. Set in India, these stories revolve around the theme of friendship and follow Hari and Shyam, two friends and their newly found friend: an adorable dog named Pintu, about their school lives. Softly read, and easily grasped even by toddlers, these stories will give kids a glimpse into the life of growing up in India. Parents will enjoy them for nostalgia’s sake! Also featured on India based Chimes Radio, we hope Lori will offer more installments.
Classical and Original Stories
Story Weaver by Pratham Books
Story Weaver is by far the most diverse and exciting platform for children’s stories. It is a great resource for animated picture books and audio stories based on subjects, ages, genres, and lengths. Like me, you might get lost in stories from African folklore or stories about empathy and honesty, classical stories and original stories. Under their Indian stories, you will find stories of ancient wisdom and new and original stories. This is a treasure house with hundreds of stories for all ages.