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RNZ launch the country’s first kiwi kids audiobook platform

RNZ is making it super easy for kids to listen to their favourite New Zealand stories, with the launch of its new kids’ collection Storytime on Thursday 9 May.

The free online platform is a first; a collection of hundreds of read-out-loud stories. The tales are by the best New Zealand’s children’s authors, and read by top New Zealand actors.

Designed with the ease and simplicity of an app, kids or their parents can search for stories by listening- age, author, genre and popularity. Storytime brings together RNZ’s archive of kids’ books (previously called Treasure Chest), with a bunch of new stories. And there are heaps more in the pipeline that will expand the collection over the next few months. The other good news is that a growing number of the stories are in te reo Maori.

“The original collection became far bigger than we first expected. As it evolved we became concerned as to how to arrange the collection more logically,” said Adam Macaulay, RNZ’s Commissioning Editor for drama, books and kids content.

“Kids are a really crucial part of RNZ’s audience so we needed to find how they like to listen to the stories. The functionality of the new Storytime site is a direct result of feedback from those kids, their teachers and their parents - they were involved in the design process, and in testing how to navigate the platform at each stage.”

With screen time at the centre of debate, the RNZ team see Storytime as a tool that uses technology to combat sedentary behavior. In 2017, the Ministry of Health released the first national screen-time guidelines for under-fives recommending no sedentary screen time for children under the age of two and less than an hour each day for children aged between two and five.

“Through the power of audio, a story can transport us from our car or living room to a far off land, a time from yesteryear or even a galaxy far, far away. The experience of listening is active, encouraging the mind to imagine, and leaves hands free to create. We are unashamedly championing the encouragement of active listening - a skill that some of our kids may be losing with the proliferation of screen-based visual media” said Macaulay

Children will be able to experience the taonga from leading New Zealand authors such as Witi Ihimaera, Margaret Mahy, Joy Cowley, Lynley Dodd, read by legends of radio and stage Lloyd Scott, Miranda Harcourt, Apirana Taylor and many more online now.

“Storytime is really exciting and will be a welcome resource for reading groups or as a whole class. Listening to stories is a superb way of getting exposure to a wide vocabulary, listening to the rhyme and rhythm of text, developing a sense of wonder and creativity, and of course, the pure enjoyment of just listening to a story. Comprehension and oral language development are also part and parcel of this experience, too.”

Shelly Wilson, (Reading Recovery Teacher)

Key features of Storytime include:
High quality content distinctively kiwi for kids and young adults
A growing set of audiobooks in te reo Māori.
Over one hundred stories by nearly sixty local authors and growing: Including Witi Ihimaera, Margaret Mahy, Joy Cowley, Lynley Dodd, including Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy
Narrated by New Zealand talent and recorded at RNZ: Including Lloyd Scott, Miranda Harcourt and Apirana Taylor
Searchable by topic, writer, title or broad categories of ‘age suitability’
Easy to play with on screen (even a kid can do it!)
Storytime is free and available on nearly all devices.

Storytime’s Listen, Imagine, Create campaign encourages teachers and parents to let the kids loose on an audio adventure through New Zealand author’s worlds then send photos of drawings and videos to RNZ via Facebook and Instagram @radionewzealand #RNZStorytime

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