Lights, Camera, Action:
Launching Virtual Storytime

Although COVID-19 has been dif­fi­cult, libraries con­tin­ue their core mis­sion to pro­vide access to resources and ser­vices by improv­ing and increas­ing their dig­i­tal ser­vices. Sto­ry­time is a key ser­vice the pub­lic library pro­vides to sup­port ear­ly lit­er­a­cy, fam­i­ly engage­ment, and help­ing chil­dren find the joy of read­ing. Face-to-face inter­ac­tion helps to improve the con­nec­tion with fam­i­lies — how­ev­er, librar­i­ans have had to tran­si­tion sto­ry­time pro­gram­ming to a vir­tu­al plat­form. Let’s take a look at some ways to have a suc­cess­ful vir­tu­al storytime.

Step 1: Per­mis­sion Guidelines

For now, many pub­lish­ers have adapt­ed their per­mis­sion guide­lines to allow edu­ca­tors and librar­i­ans the oppor­tu­ni­ty to read sto­ries online. School Library Jour­nal has a great web­site with the lat­est updates and guide­lines and pub­lish­ers.  It is impor­tant to fol­low these guide­lines to com­ply with copy­right law.

Step 2: Vir­tu­al Platform

The choice on the vir­tu­al plat­form will depend on the guide­lines set by a pub­lish­er. In my expe­ri­ence, Face­book Live is a pop­u­lar vir­tu­al plat­form that is easy to nav­i­gate. Zoom and YouTube are oth­er vir­tu­al plat­forms you can use. For this arti­cle, I will pro­vide the steps for access­ing and using Face­book Live. 

Step 3: Using Face­book Live

To access Face­book Live, go to your Face­book page, click on write a post, and choose live video. Before start­ing your sto­ry­time, click on the mag­ic wand on the left-hand cor­ner. On the low­er right-hand cor­ner, choose the tool option and then click on the sec­ond flip option above. Vis­it the fol­low­ing web­site from Face­book for the Face­book Live tuto­r­i­al, and the blog Youth Ser­vices Shout-Out on how to rotate your screen so the audi­ence can see the sto­ry in the right direction.

Step 4: Tips and Tricks on Read­ing the Book

Pri­or to using Face­book Live, I turn on the record-a-video option in the cam­era app. This ensures that the light­ing is good, and the sound has good qual­i­ty. A few min­utes pri­or to sto­ry­time, fol­low step three to flip the screen so the audi­ence sees the book in the right direc­tion. It is impor­tant to project your voice a lit­tle loud­er than you would dur­ing a reg­u­lar sto­ry­time at the library. 

Step 5: Audi­ence Interaction: 

The fol­low­ing list pro­vides some sug­ges­tions on how best to inter­act with an online audience.

  • Pete the CatHave a great smile and wel­come every­one at the start of the program.
  • Encour­age the audi­ence to add a com­ment in the post and do your best to respond either dur­ing or after the program.
  • Wear a fun­ny hat or cos­tume to com­ple­ment the theme or just for fun.
  • For rhyming or sto­ries with a beat, add instru­ments and encour­age the audi­ence to sing along. A great exam­ple is the book Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin and James Dean, HarperCollins.
  • Add a pup­pet or two.
  • If you have a pet, con­sid­er hold­ing them at least at the start of sto­ry­time to wel­come the audience.
  • When using Face­book Live test out some of the fil­ters such as a back­ground or a costume.

Ten Per­fect Sto­ries to Read Online:

Ten Stories to Read Out Loud

  1. The Very Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar by Eric Car­le, Penguin
  2. The Frog in the Bog by Kar­ma Wil­son and Joan Rankin, Atheneum
  3. How Do Dinosaur series by Jane Yolen and Marc Teague, Scholastic
  4. Drag­ons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri, Penguin
  5. Cor­duroy by Don Free­man, Penguin
  6. Pig­gy and Ele­phant series by Mo Willems, Scholastic
  7. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Day­walt and Oliv­er Jef­fers, Penguin
  8. Click-Clack-Moo by Doreen Cronin and Bet­sy Lewin, Simon & Schuster
  9. Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek, Penguin
  10. The Rain­bow Fish by Mar­cus Pfis­ter and J. Ali­son James, Simon & Schuster

Ten Stories to Read Out Loud

Many authors are also pro­vid­ing vir­tu­al sto­ry­times. Fol­low this link,

Please vis­it my library’s Face­book Page @Ericson Pub­lic Library, to enjoy a vir­tu­al sto­ry­time with me and my cat, Oliv­er Jones.

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