I use Skype all the time to keep in touch with relatives. My kids have several keepsake audiobooks from grandparents on their shelves. I travel for work and am often in a different time zone, so I can’t talk to my kids before bedtime. So the offerings from Be There Bedtime Stories sounded like they were right up my alley.
The product is simple but very cool. Go to their site, pick a story (mostly geared towards children ages 3-8, and some stories are in Spanish). Using your webcam, record yourself reading the story. Send the link to your loved ones, and Skype-style, you will appear in the upper part of the screen, the book below, pages flipping automatically as you read.
It was all very simple to set up, and a glitch was easily resolved thanks to the user-friendly help section. Recording the story was a lot of fun, and my boys, who were watching, got a huge kick out of it (and wanted to record their own stories, which would be nice for the grandparents). My favorite part about the whole experience, though, was that not only can you preview parts of the books, once you register online you can go through the entire process of recording a story (or two, ahem) and are not charged until you are completely satisfied and ready to e-mail the link to someone.
At $9.99 per book, the price certainly seemed reasonable. As reasonable as those keepsake audiobooks that I love in theory, but that my children find frustrating when they don’t work. I think they would find having a story read to them on the computer to be a novel idea, and let’s face it, even though they’re still only five, they’re quite computer-savvy already.