Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Lost and Lonely Owl & a Sparkle Stories Giveaway!

The lost and lonely owl

I am very happy to welcome Lisabeth of Sparkle Stories in this space today. But before I do please allow me to share just a little bit about our own experience with Sparkle Stories. I think it's important for you all to know how much my family and I truly appreciate these stories that come from a small business we fully believe in.

As you know, every Friday night in our home is known as 'snuggle night with Daddy'. Since the girls don't get to see Kevin very often during the week he likes to reconnect with them by having a sleepover with just the three of them and our dogs. Unfortunately he comes home after their bedtime on Friday night. They both have so much anticipation  and excitement to see their Daddy (understandably) that they have a hard time waiting for him. I have tried doing quite a few things  to help them while we wait but to no avail. Then I found Sparkle Stories. I wasn't sure at first what the girls would think. We have never done audio books before and they know nothing of the computer world, but I really enjoyed the stories I previewed so I wanted to give it a shot. The following Friday, after our usual night time routine and Little L was asleep, I brought the girls down stairs, put a playcloth over my computer screen (so it wouldn't distract them) and played a story from the Junkyard series. K was completely engrossed from the get go. C listened while she quietly played. They kept requesting more and more stories and before we knew it, Daddy was home.Needless to say, after that night listening to Sparkle Stories has become part of our Snuggle night rhythm.

We have subscriptions to a few of their series and each one keeps us (yep, even me) begging for more. They are all gently and consciously told, allowing my childrens' imaginations to take over, which I really appreciate. One of their most recent stories in the Junkyard Tales series entitled 'The Lost and Lonely Owl' was a huge hit in our home. 'BEST STORY EVER' according to my children. Both of my girls have listened to it at least 10 times now. We swear it was written with C in mind because she tends to sound like that little owl quite a bit. We even have some artwork around the house inspired but that very story. (see picture above of one of K's!) Now I tell all the families at our Waldorf school about our love for Sparkle Stories in the hope that they will check them out and fall in love too.

Ok,enough about us! Please welcome Lisabeth of Sparkle Stories!
All photos below courtesy of Lisabeth and David (and the one of the two of them taken by their boys!)

sparkle stories logo

What is Sparkle?

Sparkle Stories produces original audio stories for children and parents around the world. We have eight original Story Series, and a ninth that features classic tales and verses -- all of which follow the seasons of the year. Families can subscribe and hear fresh stories each week, or they can try our single-purchase stories -- with easy downloads right off the Sparkle site.

How did Sparkle Stories come about?

The idea for Sparkle seemed to drop right from the sky, in a lovely flash of realization. I had been saying quiet prayers for insight into our family's direction -- for a good long time -- and then one night, there it was: the idea for Sparkle!

Here's what happened: I was online, hunting for quality audio stories for kids, and I couldn't find much of what I was looking for. I wanted stories that reflected the kind of home I was striving to create for my family; stories that inspire and bring joy and, at the same time, offer a picture of childhood that is simple and play-filled and kind.

And I was finding places online where other families were expressing the same thing: a need for high quality audio stories for their own families.

And then I realized: I'm married to the very man who could create those stories! One of his greatest gifts is his ability to spin a beautiful story at the drop of the hat. And I got goosebumps, and promptly ran to tell him my idea. And so Sparkle was born.

It took us six months of planning, and a several years of good hard work to get it to where it is now. But as of 6 months ago, we've both been working full time for Sparkle. Which, for us, is a huge success story!


Your stories and the way they are told seem so in-tune with Waldorf education - do either of you have a background in that?

Yes! David was a Waldorf class teacher before we started Sparkle. His teaching days were the perfect training ground for his Storytelling gift. He used stories to teach reading, to teach math, to teach history, as well as to help his class through various social dynamics and challenges. And when the class was overly boisterous, he knew that if he simply opened his mouth and offered the words, "Once Upon A Time...", his class would immediately fall into a deeply attentive, quiet place.

What inspires your weekly stories? Where do you get your ideas from?

David gets ideas from all sorts of places -- from the experiences our family has in the world, from emails we receive from subscribers, from conversations he has or people he meets. Often the most powerful stories come from what's going on in our own family.

A good example: one of our most recent stories, "Jack Tar's Brave Day", was inspired by one of our boys, who is learning to read. He is learning more slowly than his peers, which is -- in the larger scheme of things -- perfectly normal and fine. However, for him, it is embarrassing, and even shameful. It was something he wanted to hide. David created the story to reassure and inspire him. And it worked beautifully. And now it lives in the by Thistle by Thimble Subscription Series, for other families to enjoy.


What do you children think of them?
Our boys have been hearing stories like these since they were little. Bedtime stories have been an essential part of our daily rhythm for... 8 years now! And several of the Sparkle Series had their start in nightly storytelling -- David told Martin & Sylvia and Junkyard Tales to the boys for years before we launched Sparkle. And they still ask for them!

Also important to note: our boys hear the stories before anyone else! David starts with a story seed, and then allows the story to unfold for the boys at bedtime. And the boys are the perfect barometer for a story well-told. He knows he's hit the mark when our older son sighs and says, "That was a good story." And when our younger son wants to give extra kisses and snuggles.


Is there anything else you would like to add?

Our latest (and bestest) news: With our new website, we launched a Subscription System for families in the Southern Hemisphere! Subscribers in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and more can now listen to stories in the right order for their seasons.

And also -- we have Free Stories! We regularly produce free stories so everyone can have a little Sparkle.
First: each Story Series has a free Sample Story on Stories page.
And there's a list of free stories on our blog, under the "Free Story" category.

The latest one was a free story we posted for fall, from our most popular Martin & Sylvia series "Little House Day".



We're giving away a three-month subscription to any three Subscription Series! The winner can choose from our seven Subscription Series, and enjoy a season full of stories. (Best way to learn about the Series is to listen to the Samples on the Subscriptions page.)

For everyone, we have an easy "trial" package! It's the Sparkle Stories $1-for-the-first-month of subscription discount. Pick from one of three Subscription Packages, and enjoy stories for a whole month! (You'll end up with 4+ hours of stories!) If you love it, the subscription will be ongoing -- you don't have to do anything. If you want to change it, you can simply log in and try a different series, or cancel all-together. Click here to read all about it.

For a chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post!
If you would like additional chances to win:

-Visit Sparkle and tell us which series you would choose
-Like Slate Sparkle Stories on Facebook :!/sparklestories
-Post this giveaway to Facebook, Twitter, or your blog
-Let me know you are a dear follower of Frontier Dreams

and please make sure to come back and leave separate comments letting me know you've done so!

I will close comments Wednesday September 26th and announce the winner within this post that day. Please be sure to check back to see if you won!

Thank you Lisabeth and David! Keep up the amazing work!! Good luck everyone.

Comments closed

The winner is:  "Amy · 
I would choose Junkyard Tales, as my oldest would get a kick out of the series title, I'm sure :) "
Congrats Amy! Please e-mail me at farmergopi(at)yahoo(dot)com

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