Bedtime stories are often the last learning our kids get before their day ends. Bedtime stories offer endless benefits to them, sending them into dreams, giving them the opportunity to understand their own evolving natures and special place in the world. But as beautiful as bedtime stories are, we’re aware that families all the world read them in different ways. Asking families to read bedtime stories in the same way is like trying to ask families to be the same – when we all have different needs! Some kids want to read English stories when they come from non-English-speaking backgrounds. Some kids are too young to read stories by themselves, but would love to use their voice to choose digital books. Some families would love to have the convenience of online stories without the need for screens to be involved. Some parents and kids would love to listen to a story together, and discuss the story afterwards. To provide a solution to some of this diversity of reading experiences, we created an Alexa Skill called Storyberries Tales. Storyberries Tales uses stories sourced from Storyberries, an exciting online publisher of quality free children’s stories that, since its launch, has rapidly found a beloved place in the hearts, homes and schools of children all around the world. It offers both classic and contemporary stories in an easy-to-read format organized by time, theme or age.

What it does

Alexa Open Storyberries give users’ access to a whole world of betimes stories, poems, picture books, and comics that parents and children can enjoy! This skill also allow Echo Show to display images and illustrations for each story is being played. Stories at Storyberries come with discussion questions that allow parents and children to discuss the themes around stories before bedtime, further enhancing the communicative and human benefits of the most contemporary technologies.

How we built it

We use as a platform to access to the content, and then convert the context text to speech using Amazon Polly. We synchronized the illustrations and images each story has associated to be show using Echo Show. We use different voices, based on Polly, giving the opportunity to use a different voice as your storyteller.

Challenges we ran into

The process to synchronize the illustrations with the speech was very challenging. It was our first time working with Wordpress Plugin, adding a custom field on WP-API. Another challenge was working with the directives of AudioPlay.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Created an Alexa skill to allow access to the best quality collection of free children’s stories online, enhancing literacy, fostering an early love of reading, and understanding between people and cultures through stories that represent the richness and diversity of human experience. To humanize technology through encouraging dialogue around the process of reading, using technology to enhance rather than detract from our human interactions, and helping forge bonds between children and their parents around the pleasurable time of reading together. What's next for Storyberries? We would like to develop interactive stories, where children and parents can dialogue with the Storyberries skill, make and answer questions about the story, choose a path to follow, and opening infinite possibilities of interactions.

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