by ALEXANDRA RETTER
An octopus who plays the ukulele and wishes to explore the far reaches of the universe in a spaceship is at the center of the tale. This story is the first a local library director read while continuing to open up children’s worlds by bringing story time to them online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Story time takes place live from the living room of Jessica Schoonover, the director of the Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library in Trempealeau on Fridays at 10 a.m. This Friday will mark the third time story time goes live on the library’s Facebook page.
“It’s really warmed my heart to see the response to Facebook live story time,” Schoonover shared. “There’s a certain amount of putting yourself out there to do something like that. I’d say it’s OK I look silly in front of story time kids and caregivers. Now, we’re recording it, and my silliness can be seen for a long time. I kind of set my pride aside and thought, ‘I really enjoy being able to reach out to the kids.’”
During story time live, Schoonover does many of the things she would normally do throughout story time while physically at the library. She reads age-appropriate stories that typically center on a theme. The theme for the first week of live story time was “having a bad day,” which “seemed really appropriate because everybody was having a bad day” as the pandemic grew, Schoonover noted. The theme for the second week was “imagination.” Schoonover will also go over a rhyme or a song and do a finger play so the children have a chance to move around.
Additionally, Schoonover has done some unique, out-of-the-ordinary things for story time live. She has brought in special guests, such as her daughter, to read with her, and included her favorite stuffed animal in the tale weaving.
“I’m trying to make it even more personal and give little glimpses into my life,” Schoonover stated. “Since [children who typically attend story time at the library] can’t be with me physically, I hope to give them comfort about [my] life, house and the stuffed animals, just like they have at their house.”
She said she aims to give caregivers an opportunity for a little rest as well through story time live.
“So many of these caregivers are home, and they need a bit of a break,” Schoonover said.
Schoonover recognizes that a substantial amount of content aimed at providing activities to do at home amid the pandemic is available online at the moment. “It’s a little overwhelming, and I think … my goal is just to reach out to my little corner of the world, my families I normally see,” Schoonover shared.
The first live story time had over 2,600 views, and the second story time live had over 1,000 views.
After story time is streamed live on Facebook, recordings are posted there, in addition to the library’s website at https://swmlibrary.org/ under the section titled “Programs.”
Schoonover said people can support libraries at this time by getting excited to return to them and take part in their programming whenever they open again. Meanwhile, individuals can support libraries by taking advantage of the virtual resources that they offer, she said. For the Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library, library card holders can take courses, learn languages and download ebooks and audiobooks, for instance.
Library card holders at the Winona Public Library can access ebooks and audiobooks. Those who do not have a library card may apply for one at https://winona.lib.mn.us/. The website also includes information about databases focused on topics from languages to American history that may be accessed for free and temporary free access to online books, newspapers and magazines.