Storytelling is a good medium for learning about identity and communication as it enables exploration of one’s inner world and requires flexing one’s language skills. This paper presents a new approach to interactive storytelling: SAGE (Storytelling Agent Generation Environment), an authoring environment for children to create their own wise storytellers to interact with by telling and listening to stories. In order to encourage children’s emotional engagement in the SAGE environment, the storytellers are embodied in an interactive stuffed animal, also programmable by the children.
This paper presents technical aspects of SAGE’s design and implementation
as well as results from pilot studies done with fourth and fifth graders.
Results show that children had a tendency to share their personal stories
with the soft interactive interface. Exploration of identity and communication
happened in several ways: First, storytellers built by the children were
projections of their fears, feelings, interests, and role models; they
allowed them to explore their own identity as well as present themselves
to others. Second, through designing and testing the conversational
structures of their storytelling characters, children observed and repaired
breakdowns in conversational interaction. This process engaged them
in the exploration of communication and decentering, or taking the point
of view of others.