Good listening skills can be taught to our children by reading to them. We know they are listening when they correct a rhyme we misread in their favorite book, or catch us when we skip a page! And good listening skills come with practice. Think about all the lectures you had to LISTEN to in school. You first learned those listening skills when you were read your bedtime story as a child! This is why you hear all the time how important it is to read to your child every day for at least 20 minutes.
We recently were introduced to a very creative couple, Mel and Chris Bugaj. Together they formed Night Light Stories and they provide incredible FREE stories that they have written and recorded on their website, nightlightstories.net. They can also be found on Face book and Twitter. We interviewed them for this blog post. Enjoy reading their answers below and have fun learning about and discovering their work. Download some Night Light Stories to motivate your little one at bed time, or even in the car or during quiet times during the day –and let the magic of their imagination grow!
Tell us about yourselves and how Night Light stories began.
Welcome to Night Light Stories! We are so happy you found us! My name is Miss Mel. My husband and I are both special educators with twenty-four years combined experience. I have taught all grade levels from preschool to grade five in both general and special education. Currently, I am a Supervisor for student teachers for Walden University as well as a Homebound Teacher. My husband is a speech-language pathologist and founding member of the Assistive Technology Team for Loudoun County Public Schools. He and a co-worker recently were published by the International Society for Technology in Education. Their book is called “The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools”. After hours he also produces and hosts the A.T.TIPSCAST, an award-winning podcast about free or commonly found technology that can be used to help students meet their educational goals.
My husband and I created the podcast called Night Light Stories where I narrate original children’s stories that we’ve written. Every episode is available for free in audio format on our compendium blog or on iTunes. On this blog you will find vocabulary from the story as well as comprehensive activities that engage the child’s imagination. We also produce a weekly visual dictionary called “Lighting The Way With Words” where we choose a vocabulary word and pair it with an original photo. The audience is invited to send in their own pictures to help define the word. Our goal is to promote education and family time.
We started the podcast and blog as a creative thing to do together. We thought it would be a fun alternative for families, educators, and classrooms to listen to our stories on car trips, around the house, transition times in the classroom, or anytime. We also thought that since our kids seemed to enjoy the stories, other kids around the world might like them too. We say in the podcast that the stories are “for children of all ages” and it is our hope that families are enjoying the stories together.
Besides the blog, you can find us on Twitter and our Face book Page . This is where people can get updates about all things related to Night Light Stories; including what’s going on with story development, recent pictures, and more. We hope you enjoy listening to our stories as much as we enjoy creating them! As always, we look forward to watching the glow grow brighter with the many stories we can share together.
Who/what inspires the stories you write?
Inspiration comes from a variety of sources. For instance, our 6yo drew a picture of the number 8 as a person with an opossum as a sidekick. Who is this mysterious number 8 man? Why does he have an opossum as a sidekick? This is just one of many ways a story idea may start.
What is your favorite NL story and why?
Ms. Mel’s is “The Watermelon Seed”. It holds a special place in my heart because it reminds me of when our daughter was born and how our son reacted to it. A fun fact about that story is it took me about 17x to record the ending without crying.
Mr. Chris’ is “Alien Pursuit” because it has aliens and hip hop. Who doesn’t love aliens and hip hop?
Who is your favorite children’s author, favorite children’s book?
Ms. Mel’s is “The Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree”. My grandfather used to read that to my brother and I whenever we stayed over their house. His voices for the characters were so perfect. No matter how many times I read that story to my children, I’ll always hear the voices as the way he read it.
Mr. Chris’ is tempted to say “The Piano and Laylee Learning Adventure Series” about two dogs teaching students how to become positive digital citizens. But, if he had to pick just one, it would be “Good Night, Good Knight”. Whenever I get the chance to be a guest reader in a classroom, I read this book and kids love it.
How do you want NL stories to benefit/impact children and their families?
Research shows that listening to audio stories improves the reading abilities of children.
It’s our hope that while kids listen to the stories they are engaged and entertained with their families.
What are some ways your listeners have tied your stories into their daily routines?
Listeners have told us that they have incorporated our stories into their bed time routines. They’ve also used the stories to help pass the time on car rides, during bath time, or before school. What is most heartwarming is when listeners share stories of how a particular Night Light Story helped them through a difficult situation. For instance, one listener listened to the story “Stitches” while waiting in the ER to see the doctor after cutting themselves.
Do you wish to have your stories published into books one day?
Yes. Currently our stories exist in audio format only. Therefore we would love to see the stories come to life with brilliant illustrations and/or some interactive components.
What is your favorite thing to play with your children?
Ms. Mel likes to play Zingo. The kids always get so excited when they beat me.
Mr. Chris likes to play dress-up. I finds that they create rich characters and hilarious stories which spark not only their imaginations, but mine as well.
Thank you to Nightlight Stories for creating FUN resources to enhance family routines and receptive communication skills!