At the beginning of July, The Storytellers Project has started its period of prototyping in the city of Empoli.
The project, initiated by the Italian designer Laura Boffi in collaboration with TOY and other actors, wants to create an innovative library service, which connects a community of senior readers to young children (4-6 years old) and their families for remote reading aloud sessions.
TOY is responsible for training the project staff in intergenerational learning and will also coordinate the evaluation research on the experience of intergenerational interaction of readers, children and parents.
The first Storybell robots have been now handled to the children and their parents who will use them at home for the following 3 months, until the end of September. Thanks to the Storybell robots, the children will be able to request reading sessions to the community of trained readers and the readers will be able to invite children to their readings, allowing a reciprocal interaction.
The project is particularly relevant in the current COVID-19 pandemic, during which face-to-face interactions between children and older adults are nearly impossible. The Storybell could represent a bridge to sustain intergenerational relationships also when social distancing is imposed.
Being the prototype at a very early stage, the Storybell robot is not “plug&play”, and this period is going to be very intense in terms of technical debugging and excitement vs frustration balance.
So far, the first readings have happened, and it seems that the time ahead will be at the same time revealing and busy for the researchers involved.
The Storytellers Project is co-funded by the EU project ‘Designscapes’.
For more information, you can contact Laura Boffi.