Bedtime stories are better heard than seen

Lullaby app Jo Laali is deliberately audio-only because listening ignites the imagination

The culture of storytelling is fading away in this world of technology. And Anil Prakash Chirravuri, a management consultant, has been thinking about how to revive it. He has come up with Jo Laali, a story-telling app for kids aged 3-11 years.

Using it, children get to hear stories from the Panchatantra, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Jataka Tales, and even Chandamama, retold in ordinary, everyday Telugu.

There’s only an audio version of the app, which is available on both Android and IOS play stores.

“The idea of having only audio in the app is to let kids create their own mental pictures of what they’re hearing. I believe the video sequences which accompany audio stories do not give free rein to imagination,” says Anil.

“Neural research shows that when parents and caregivers interact verbally with children — which includes reading to them — kids learn a great deal more than we ever thought possible,” says G. Reid Lyon, Ph.D., chief of the child development and behaviour branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, MD, USA.

Anil remembers the bed-time stories he was told, and the stories he himself told his own children. But now, this time of parent-child bonding is being replaced by electronic gadgets.

“Stories play an important role in the world of children. They help children understand the patterns of life, about good and evil, about courtesy and good behaviour. They inspire and fuel imagination, which is helpful for a child’s development. Also, stories told in the mother-tongue will help them to be in touch with their culture and this will be passed on to coming generations,” he says.

The stories that are available on the app are episodes from the epics as well as moral and funny stories. Care has been taken to avoid violent narratives, as the impact of such stories will last a lifetime, Anil feels. The stories are also chosen with a view to help hone the language and thinking skills of children.

Jo Laali will have approximately 150 stories, and six new ones will be added every month to the collection. Srikrishna, a prominent singer from Tollywood, RJ Kajal, and a few other artistes will be narrating the stories, using words and expressions that children can easily understand. Synonyms are given for words that young children might find hard to follow.

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