A Year Full of Stories


Greetings from 2018! Before we get too far along in the New Year, we wanted to take a quick look back at what we’ve been up to. 
Over the past 12 months, as we’ve heard incessant references to “fake news,” we’ve been reminded of the power of words and narratives to accurately convey what’s going on in the world. This has resonated with us as we’ve continued implementing Li’l Stories, our language arts framework for kids, and as we’ve started working with The New York Times. We choose to escape all the competing versions of reality with a good book—fiction or non—and we’d like to share our annual reading list of recommendations.

Storytelling comes into play in our work for Li’l Stories, the language arts framework that guides students through the collaborative creation and sharing of a visual narrative. This year we developed several different collaborative storytelling Labs and worked with teachers and classes in one-week workshops at P.S. 3 and P.S. 43. Students had a lot of fun using storyboarding to create their own animal stories, retell books like The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and develop original stories based on the title character. You can read more about our labs at P.S. 3 here.

This past fall, Li’l Robin began working closely with The New York Times, consulting with their brand identity group to help create design system and cross-platform consistency. For this year’s edition of our annual reading list, we asked our colleagues at the Times for their recommendations. The selected books range from gripping personal memoirs to engrossing novels to detailed scientific explorations.You can find the selections on our 2017 bookshelf.

And last but not least, we’re proud to share that Li’l Robin founder Anke Stohlmann has been named a 2017-2018 Fellow at the Revive the Dream Institute, the non-profit working to ensure all students receive an excellent education.

We wish you all the best for 2018, and hope we become part of each other’s stories in the New Year.

Collaborative Storytelling for Kids

Li’l Stories Lab: Animal Study, P.S. 3, February 2017

First posted on Learning through Stories, a publication by Li’l Stories.

Over the past year, as we’ve continued to expand Li’l Stories, we’ve developed several different collaborative storytelling Labs and worked with teachers at P.S. 3 to incorporate them into their curricula. The Labs are in-class enrichment programs, collaborations with teachers at elementary schools, art organizations, libraries and museums in New York City.

In the workshops, students engage in the collaborative process of creating a narrative, capturing it using the Li’l Stories app, and sharing it with the group. Labs can have a variety of outcomes from oral presentations to written narratives and story videos. The lesson plan of each Lab reinforces classroom topics and nurtures creative thinking, cooperative learning and digital literacy. Read More

Making a Difference in the New Year

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Given all the twists and turns of the past few months, we’re wondering exactly what the rest of 2017 has in store. We know we’re not alone! We recently participated in the Women’s March in New York and were overwhelmed by the incredible passion and energy of our fellow marchers. The experience reminded us of the importance of civic engagement and the power that people have when they come together. As we continue to design projects related to education and publishing, we can’t help thinking about this spirit of engagement as a goal for our work. Collaboration is our favorite part of the design process, and good design—with the goal of elevating the lives of its users—is almost by definition democratic. Many of the projects we’ve worked on over the past year touched on these themes, and we hope to build on this aspect of our practice in 2017.

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Our Fall Reading List, 2016

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Our recent design work focuses on education (read the latest on Li’l Stories here), and a big part of what we do involves getting kids to love reading. It goes without saying that we love reading as well—and it’s most definitely not all for work. We’re always looking for new books that will help us discover a fresh idea or give us a different perspective on the world. For this edition of our annual reading list, we asked our colleagues at Civic Hall, the collaboration center for civic tech innovators in New York, if they could recommend any titles that resonated with them over the past year.

The selected books explore subjects as varied as creativity, business and how to evolve the workplace to make it better for women, to time-traveling thrillers and a personal memoir about the impact of race. The suggestions may give you a few gift ideas just in time for the holidays, or a title to get lost in during a little downtime.

When we were putting together this list over the past month, we were expecting a very different outcome to the presidential election. The results have been a shock, and if we assembled another list right now it might be very different. But we like to think that whatever challenges the world holds in the coming years, we’ll always be able to find refuge, and inspiration, in a good book. In this spirit, we’d like to share our 2016 list. You can also find the selections on our bookshelf. Read More

Learning from Li’l Stories

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First posted on Learning through Stories, a publication by Li’l Stories.

Since the launch of Li’l Stories earlier this year, we’ve been busy working on the next twists and turns of the storytelling project. We’ve fulfilled 99% of our Kickstarter rewards and have donated — thanks to our remarkable 144 Kickstarter backers and to you, friends of Li’l Stories — an astonishing 122 story pads to 12 elementary schools (encompassing 25 classrooms) and the Children’s Museum of the Arts.

Now, with students back in class for the fall, we’ve had a chance to see how Li’l Stories is coming to life as it is introduced in classrooms. We’ve learned a lot about how educators and parents are using the framework and would like to share these lessons and how they’ve helped pivot and shape our plans for the future. We hope you enjoy the read and might find a helpful tip if you’re using Li’l Stories with your students or child. Read More