Not the Usual Bedtime Story

As the Internet grows up, more things we once thought amazing have become ordinary or even antiquated. I was reminded of this in a recent conversation about a decidedly non-Internet topic: bedtime stories.

My mother travels a lot, which makes it tough for her to keep in touch with her grandkids. So a few years ago when she was in Asia, we decided to try having her read bedtime stories to the kids. We experimented with different videoconferencing software, and eventually we found that both Skype and Google Chat worked.

The lag on the video was so bad, however, that we usually switched to audio only, which meant the kids couldn’t see the book unless we had a copy on hand.

But soon it will be easier for faraway family members to stay in sync.

Local entrepreneur Justin Butler is launching a startup called Kids Cork, which will make it easy for parents and grandparents to read to youngsters from afar. He came up with the idea for the site while traveling on business and away from his two daughters.

With Kids Cork, users will be able to record themselves reading stories from a library of provided books, and kids can then listen to the stories at their convenience. The Kids Cork software will show the book and automatically turn the pages on cue while playing the adults’ narration. Kids Cork developers are pitching the site as a way for military members to keep in touch with their kids, but it also will be available to civilians.

“I started talking to other people who were away from their families, too,” Butler says. “And I had a lot of friends who were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they were coming across the same problems.” is still in development, but Butler plans to launch it within a month or two. I’m looking forward to it, because then it will be easier for my mom to read to her grandkids again.