SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — Although orders to stay home and practice social distancing to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus can make it easy to feel disconnected from the activities, people and places that are most important to us, one local library has adapted to the restrictions against face-to-face storytime by adopting an alternative way to share positive life lessons to children of all ages.
Phone-a-Story, an initiative created by the Springfield Town Library in an effort to promote literacy by entwining the written and spoken word while encouraging listening skills, allows children and their families to call in to listen to a three-minute, pre-recorded story that is available 24/7 and updated weekly between Monday and Tuesday.
Springfield Town Library Youth Services Librarian Michelle Stinson, who is in charge of the two-week-old program, first thought that it would be something nice for families with children to look forward to while under quarantine, but soon realized that a simple phone call provides more opportunities for young people to develop life skills.
“I was thinking of families holding their child or children in their lap with the first few books but the reality is that an older child could also learn numbers (when they dial in) and good-hearted lessons,” Stinson said. “There are other tools in addition to listening that they can learn by using Phone-a-Story.”
Stinson uses the library’s outgoing voicemail message connected to their fax to communicate the stories.
Each story is handpicked based on the type of lesson it conveys as well as the length of the book, since the outgoing message cannot exceed a total of three minutes. The first book, “Tomorrow I’ll Be Kind” by Jessica Hische, teaches the importance of being nice and welcoming towards others. This week’s story, “This is Me and Where I am” by Joanne Fitzgerald, allows young minds to discover and explore the world and its intricacies by highlighting what is a country, a city, a neighborhood, and so forth.
“The two books I have picked so far were chosen to provide children and their families with a calming way to learn and entertain without looking at a screen,” Stinson said. “When we started this I was trying to find a way that the Springfield Town Library could reach some of the folks that we don’t necessarily reach out to us virtually and provide a new way to still get that personal connection with the library and books.”
So far about a dozen families have taken part in the free to access initiative. To be a part of the storytelling fun, simply dial (802) 885-3499 to hear a new story every week. If you have questions about the program or Springfield Town Library, please call the library at (802) 885-3108, email firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on Facebook.
“We are all part of something bigger than ourselves and we are all going through this together,” Stinson said.