This is Elke, Graham, Chilli, and Marlin Vidler. They are among our longest running Sparkle friends! I've known Elke since she first emailed in September of 2012 -- when Sparkle was still a new little company. She was one of our first Southern Hemisphere subscribers who inspired and guided our work –– most especially Martin & Sylvia's Whole World Easter collection! She's been a constant support – sharing feedback, stories, and photos of her kids’ experiences with Sparkle over the years. They originally discovered Sparkle Stories in 2012 when their eldest (Chilli) was in her early childhood days through David's writing for Rhythm of the Home. These pieces, focused on Waldorf pedagogy and mindful parenting, inspired and engaged the family. Elke noticed that their daughter instantly connected with the accompanying audio stories.
I asked Elke many questions, but most importantly, how the stories had impacted their family and home:
"These stories have not only entertained our children and inspired their creative pursuits throughout all ages and stages of their childhood so far, they’ve also holistically inspired them to find solutions through difficult times and develop great character strengths within themselves that will serve them their whole life through."
That is the best compliment ever!
Read on to see answers to other questions, such as how they use the stories.
What do you love most about Sparkle Stories?
In our early days as a Sparkle Stories family, I loved the connection this audio story offered and the tradition it brought to our young family. As the years went on, I think connection has always stayed at the core of what I love about Sparkle Stories. In the beginning, we had a beautiful family tradition of sitting quietly on a Saturday evening and listening to the new weekly story together.
For years this was a treasured time and it perfectly suited our little family. We’d have supper together, sit around listening to the story while drawing, knitting, or just being together, and Chilli (our then four-year-old) would be filled with inspiration for the week ahead — craft projects, recipes she’d like to cook, adventures to take, drawings, paintings, creative play imaginings, and even her own stories she would set up with puppets to tell us. That one weekly story would be listened to over and over again.
In an age of content overwhelm, I liked that there was something that was brought to life many times over for our children. As a child, I remember having a small selection of books in our own home. We would read these many times through and I could recite a lot of the stories or parts of them, word for word. I think there’s a deeper appreciation of the story when things are honored in this way and I’m glad the wholesomeness of Sparkle Stories was one of the places where this came from for my children.
What are your favorite stories?
I think if I told you that with a now 14- and 9-year-old, the most listened to stories on our account are still Martin & Sylvia, you wouldn’t believe me! But since day dot of being a Sparkler family, the familiar rhythms of life in this fictional family home have been a place of comfort and inspiration for our children. And to our children, these characters aren’t fictional! David imbues them with such life and imagination that our children have honestly grown up thinking this family was living and breathing somewhere not that far away!
Over the years, we’ve worked our way through so much of the now extensive Sparkle Stories catalogue, and each collection of stories and characters has offered our children something new, inspiring, enriching, and therapeutic. We’ve especially loved:
- The daredevil adventuring of the rag-tag group of animals in the Junkyard Tales.
- The ecological and earth care lessons from the nature spirits of So Many Fairies.
- The treasure-hunting of the Windward Ho! crew.
- The exciting global and historical escapades of the Willowbee family children through the magical tree in their backyard.
- The therapeutic messages held in the days of sensitive Libby and her wise cat Dish.
During the transition between younger child and teenager, How to Be Super was a powerful and inspiring series of tales for our daughter. I look forward to our son listening in a few years.
We’ve especially loved it when David has wrestled with an Australian accent, bringing a little bit of home for the children in the Land Down Under into this magical catalogue of stories! Our children get so much joy from hearing David take on an Australian persona!
What has been your favorite craft or project?
Our children both learnt to knit alongside Martin and Sylvia with Miss Melinda in the great series Knitting from the Beginning. This beautiful collection of stories carries the child through the entire experience of where wool comes from — the shearing, carding, spinning, and dying along with some of the various fiber craft skills. It was a fantastic way to complement a lot of their hands-on experiences through story. Having this all brought together through familiar characters —ones that the children could share this beautiful experience with — added an extra level of specialness to learning this important handwork skill. Being able to complement our homeschooling lessons through the years with stories that mirrored these times has also been a lovely and very special element of our family’s connection to Sparkle Stories.
The Fairy Poke is probably my all-time favorite Sparkle craft because it is a living memory of each of our children’s very first pieces of knitting and the experience of that time — plus, it’s a practical daily-use item that every child needs with them each day!
What other Sparkle Projects have you enjoyed?
Marlin went bananas for the Martin and Sylvia breakfast cookbook that was created last year and immediately took over our kitchen for the day. He cooked our family a whole day’s worth of meals from the breakfast recipes on the very first day it was released! Mrs. Brown’s apple turnovers is a recipe that has been enjoyed for many years here at harvest time when our apples are ready for picking. Whenever we eat them I feel a warm hug from Mrs Brown, like she cooked them herself. The stories really come alive for the parents as well!
How do you incorporate the stories into your day?
In recent years, Sparkle Stories has become a fantastic screen-time alternative. Marlin tends to be drawn to the flashing-light allure of television and when I notice the balance is askew, or I’d like to encourage something quieter for times of stillness, he never hesitates to jump at my suggestion of Sparkle Stories. At the moment he’s decided to knit himself a blanket for winter and he’s listening to ALL the stories!
With two children so far apart in age (a five-and-a-half year difference), our children have often been at very different stages throughout their childhoods. Sparkle Stories has not only offered them a place where they can come together and connect on a similar level, but it’s also offered them friendship in more solitary moments. With our eldest now off at full time school, Marlin finds Sparkle Stories a lovely friend throughout the day in independent moments. He’ll often be listening along with stories as he builds a lounge fort, cooks for his “babies” in “Pumpkin House” or quietly constructs his latest Lego or Meccano invention. In fact while writing this, I’ve also remembered that the children’s long-time and beloved name for their little house corner where they cook, clean for, and tend to their own doll family, imitating the rhythms of our own home life, came from one of the very early Sparkle Stories that Chilli listened to as a young child.
What have the stories brought to your home and family?
In the years with a new baby in the home, Sparkle Stories was a wonderful quiet tool and a friendly companion when I was immersed in extended moments of life with a newborn. Chilli could sit quietly beside me, listening through headphones to the stories, simultaneously engaged in handwork and we were still connected as a family. Throughout the years, David’s voice in its many different incarnations has also become a place of comfort and connection for the children. It’s brought peace and harmony on many long car trips and inspired lots of well-loved travel games along the way. To this day “pink-toad” remains a favourite!
Throughout the many years now, Sparkle Stories has been a thread that runs through so many aspects of our daily, weekly, and yearly rhythms. From stories about Festivals to rhythms of daily life, there has never been a lack of inspiration coming from the rich story content for our family. Marlin has been inspired by the Goose Eye Wilderness days in his own Forest Schooling adventures. We’ve had exploring days, camp outs, and many activities that have taken cues from Martin’s days in the forest with his friends. We’ve celebrated Advent and Easter with Martin & Sylvia, Libby & Dish and the Junkyard crew. The children have hunted around the house and property for yellow envelopes each day of Advent and had a childhood filled with meaningful activities inspired by the rich content of the stories. We’ve journeyed around the world to meet different families and experienced diverse cultures with various feature stories in many of the series. Year after year at certain cornerstones throughout our annual family rhythm, the children will ask for certain stories or remember fondly activities in years gone past that grew out of a particular Sparkle Story or one of the many inspiring tutorials that compliment the stories on their blog.
One aspect I have always loved about Sparkle Stories is the subtle yet powerful suggestions presented through the stories for everyday personal development, both for the children and ourselves! I’d often smile as I listened to Martin and Sylvia work through moments of sibling conflict, hoping my children were listening extra closely at that time! And there have definitely been numerous peaceful parenting tips I’ve taken from both Momma and Daddy in listening to how they gently navigated the often difficult task of raising children in today’s world. I’ve felt as though David and Lisabeth are there giving me all the help and support I need to get through the more challenging and overwhelming days, bringing their wealth of experience and knowledge to help those of us still desperately trying to figure out this parenting gig!
What do your children say about Sparkle Stories?
When asked what they think about Sparkle Stories, our children say;
“They’re great and they give me lots of ideas for play and adventures. My favourite character in the Junkyard Tales is Benjamin Thompson. I can’t tell you why, I just like him!” Marlin, nine years old.
“When I was younger the stories inspired me to help my mum and dad around the house. The values presented through the stories helped to shape my personality with the characters modeling kindness and respect. I have great memories of when I was younger, acting as different characters from the stories many times in my play. I would make up my own story from what I’d been listening to and I would become people from these stories.” Chilli, 14 years old.