Kid's Story House brings new meaning to bedtime tales

Company cooperates with stage designers to create imaginative fairytale wonderlands

Children are seen listening to stories in the Kid's Story House in Taipei yesterday.

Children are seen listening to stories in the Kid's Story House in Taipei yesterday.

We all have been told stories since we were young - mostly at bedtime or playtime, and mostly by our parents. Now, a whole new experience of storytelling is available in Taiwan, in which children can actually walk into the world of fairy tales and take part in the stories.
Kid's Story House was founded four years ago by Chang Ta-kuang, a father of two children now aged 6 and 9, in the belief that stories have "magical" power in the development of a child's character and personality.
Like any other father, Chang began telling stories to his children every day when they were 2 years old. It was that passion and the smiles on his children's faces that drove him to build the story house - something he originally planned to do after he retired.
"We have different stories suitable for children of different ages," said Wu Hong-bing, branch manager of the Kid's Story House in Taipei's Shihlin district.
He said that for children of around 3 years old, it is the pictures and graphics that attract their attention, while the storytelling is a process to help them develop the ability to focus. Children aged from 3 to 6 start to understand the development of a story, while children over 6 can appreciate the meaning or moral of a story.
"In addition to magic and adventure fairy tales, sometimes we integrate basic science or daily life skills into stories so that the whole experience is not only fun but also educational," Wu said.
In order to create a real fairytale world that seems to pop out from the pages of a book, Wu said the company worked with the top stage designer for children's plays in Taiwan to build three rooms with different themes in each - the Dinosaur World, the Magic Cat Bus and the Little Witch Home.
Also, working with 30 local illustrators, every story is made into a gigantic book taller than an adult not only to attract the children's attention but also so they can "play" with the story, he added.
"Each child can interact with the story itself," Wu went on, adding that "through questions and answers and playing with the props, we encourage children to find the next clue or development of the story by themselves."
For example, he said, in the story of the Three Little Pigs, children can come up and actually huff and puff and blow down a house made of straw or sticks - special properties made to bring them the sense of vividness and excitement.
In addition to visual and tactile incentives, moral education also plays an important part in the entire experience.
"Morals can be drawn from each story we tell," Wu said. "For example, in some stories, we teach children the concept of respect and modesty."
Each one-hour storytelling session is divided into three stories with different phases - a short story usually contains more interaction to encourage the children to sit and listen, followed by a longer one that often has something to do with daily life, and finally a long story to really test their listening ability.
Wu said that 70 percent-80 percent of the stories told in the Kid's Story House are created by themselves based on the Green Story, the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and local illustrations. The story house changes its stories every month so that children will never feel bored.
Costing NT$350 (US$12) for each session or NT$2,500 for 10 sessions, children aged 3-8 can step into the magic world of fairy tales. It might not be considered cheap by some people, but many parents think it is worth the money.
"The way they tell stories here is much more creative and special," said Chen Hsin-huei, a mother and return customer who has brought her 6-year-old daughter to the story house every month for the past three years.
"Stories help my daughter become more imaginative and improve her ability to express herself," she said.
Wu said he hopes parents can recognize storytelling as a profession and even a kind of art.
"Every story is a trip to wonderland and that kind of feeling is exactly what we hope every child can feel," he said.
After four years, the Kid's Story House now has two other branches in Taiwan and each attracts over 1,000 children every month. It also has developed into a multi-dimension business, providing storytelling services on company family days, children's birthday parties and all kinds of children's exhibition events. It can also tailor-make stories for certain themes or products for businesses.
In addition, people who are interested in knowing the secrets of how to be a good storyteller can attend storytelling workshops to learn about using body language and voice to tell a story and how to guide children to learn and understand the meaning of a story in the right way.

Updated : 2021-04-13 09:05 GMT+08:00