Damien Leith Storytime – launches 2nd February 2018
When he is not out on the road performing, singer-songwriter Damien Leith has been working on an exciting side-project – a storytime app for children, aptly titled Damien Leith Storytime. The versatile artist is already an established author, having penned two adult fiction novels – One More Time and Remember June – both of which received much acclaim. Turning his writing prowess to children’s fiction was something of a natural progression, and is a nightly occurrence at home for the father-of-three.
What started as a chance to record his original stories for his own kids to listen while he was away on tour, has evolved into a wonderful creative collection of 15-stories, with more to follow. A solid believer in the power of the imagination, and giving children free-reign to harness that power, Damien’s ethos behind designing the Storytime app was to give children a chance to unwind – without any outside interruptions – and let their imaginations run wild. “There is a lot of research which backs up kids just listening and letting their imagination run,” says Damien. “Kids need to just close their eyes, listen and create images in their own head. It gives them time to relax. It also sparks ideas in other aspects of their life, including when they write their own stories. Storytelling is vital for children’s imaginations. So many studies have shown, especially in this age of digital devices, allowing a child to imagine something without any other visual stimulation is an essential part of growing and learning.”
The app, which is aimed for children aged four and up – with parental discretion for younger children – features a wide range of stories from adventure themed and fantasy to super-hero style where the kids themselves are the heroes. Each story is completed with a ‘top and tail’ of original music – that not only relates to the story – but also helps the aim of relaxation. The stories are all told by Damien, recorded in his own recording studio, Damien Leith Recording Studio – which can take credit for recording the likes of Adam Harvey, Travis Collins, Ciaran Gribbon and Dami Im to name a few – and includes accents and special effects. This is no ordinary storytelling – this is amazing fodder for the imagination!
Modelled on the old-school cassette tapes Damien was brought up listening to – the stories have no pictures or words, no outward distractions, just the sound. “I loved those styles of stories when I was a kid,” says Damien. “When a full day was finished, homework was complete, those stories were like my time to sit back, relax and let my mind run free. This app is very simple and has very little distractions. It also has no advertising. The stories are designed to ignite children’s imaginations, and at times a moral or two. Every child is different and as parents, it is our job to access what is suitable for our child. I always encourage parents to sit in on the stories with the kids, even pause the stories if the child has questions. When the children are asking questions, it is a great sign – it means they are really listening and connecting to the story.”
While the app has been a work-in-progress since the start of 2017, the stories have actually been written over the past eight years. Damien had been road-testing his work on his own children – Jarvis (12), Jagger (10) and Kikki (6) – and their friends long before he decided to release the app. The initial stories were just recorded to his phone during testing.
“I have been writing for years,” says Damien. “Writing was in fact, my first love before singing. My kids absolutely love the stories and often listen to them many times over. They’ve even been played for their friends at sleepovers! The wonderful thing about creating a story ‘live’ in front of the kids is that I can constantly gauge if they’re enjoying where the plot is heading. For my three, I’ve found that adventure and the unexpected always draws them in. I also love creating stories in episodes with cliff-hangers to keep children guessing what might happen next. I already have quite a large backlog of stories to work from, but since my kids still ask for a new story every night, there’s constantly new ones being developed.”
Damien Leith’s Storytime is released to Google Play and iTunes on 2nd February 2018. The APP costs $5.99, which includes 15-stories – 300-minutes (or 5-hours) of great stories for children. New stories will be available at regular intervals throughout the year for purchase. To celebrate the festive season and the upcoming launch of the APP, Damien is releasing an exclusive Christmas story – Where’s Santa – via the Storytime website for a free download. This is a great opportunity to experience what the Storytime APP will be like! For more information, please visit www.damienleithstorytime.com