Bangor librarian connects with students and families through story time
One of Kate Olson’s favorite things about being the district librarian for Bangor schools is sitting in her rocking chair in the elementary school reading stories to kids. With a statewide school closure, Olson wanted to figure out how to continue making that personal connection with students.
“My number one connection with kids as the school librarian is reading them picture books. I read them a story every time they come into the library,” Olson said. “Figuring out how to still get stories to them was my main goal.”
Olson sat down in front of the camera with a few totes of books she grabbed from the school library and began recording Storytimes with Mrs. Olson. While on camera, she reads picture books to her viewers, sitting on the floor in front of her personal book collection.
Olson uploads a new video every weekday reading books like Click, Clack, Peep! by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin; Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss; Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and Archambault or whatever she managed to grab from the library before leaving the school.
Depending on the day of the week, Olson’s videos get anywhere from 40 to 80 views. “The kids have so much going on. Life is so hectic at home that I never anticipated that every family would be watching, but if it can fit in with the other schoolwork they have, it’s a great little addition,” she said.
Some of the kids will even write to Olson telling her what they liked about the stories. She hopes it gives students a small comfort while being away from school.
Reading to the kids gives Olson some comfort too. Every year she has particular books she enjoys reading to her students and when she found out school was closing it made her sad to think she might miss that tradition.
“I have a different relationship with kids than homeroom teachers do in that I’m kind of an exploration zone at the school. We read stories together and then they get to do some exploring in the library,” Olson said. “Anything I would be giving them to do would be more of an exploration and I’d rather focus on these stories and that face-to-face connection with them rather than me trying to come up with assignments.”
Olson is in charge of making sure kids have access to all of their e-reading options as well as the public library catalog to get audiobooks. The last two days of school in March, she was frantically trying to set up logins and devices for students.
“I have a google classroom where I share storytimes and activities,” Olson said. “I talk with the kids about the books they’re reading and help them find books to read through all of the different apps and services.”
According to Olson, a lot of companies have opened up their services for free during this time. She adds those links to her website as well, making them accessible to everyone.
“It’s been a herculean effort trying to teach kids and parents from afar how to use the technology because a lot of stuff that we are using now we haven’t before with the younger kids,” Olson said. “It has definitely been an adventure and opened things up, especially as far as reading goes with the access kids have to books now is really amazing.”
Storytimes with Mrs. Olson are uploaded to the district website at https://sites.google.com/bangorsd.net/libraries/school-closure-resources/story-times-with-mrs-olson every weekday.
“Having kids of my own at home, I know that this is all very challenging for parents. With the storytimes I really just thought parents might like the opportunity to sit down with their kids and talk about a story together,” Olson said. “Every family has a different number of books at their house and because libraries aren’t open right now, this is a great way for every kid to get to have a book read to them.”