Every day on Art&Seek, we’re talking to people who have tips for virtual art experiences. Share yours with us on Facebook, Instagram or @artandseek on Twitter. Click above to listen to Emma Rodgers with Bishop Arts Theatre Center share her tip with KERA’s Nilufer Arsala.
Back in March, Bishop Arts Theatre Center, like a lot of other organizations, was busy planning their spring camps for kids. When the shelter-in-place orders came down, that put an end to the camps, but not the work at the theater. Board members met to discuss how they still wanted to engage their community and let them know the theater was active and involved. Emma Rodgers is a volunteer board member and program chair at the theater.
Rodgers came up with the idea for a virtual storytelling series. Storytime at Bedtime is an online video series where volunteers record themselves reading children’s books and then the videos are uploaded to the theater’s Youtube channel. Rodgers says it’s a way for parents, especially working parents, and kids to get some entertainment and escape. It reminds people that books are fun.
And Rodgers knows her books. She is the founder of the now-closed Black Images Book Bazaar. The growing playlist of stories ranges from classics like Margaret Wise Brown’s 1947 “Goodnight Moon” to “Too Much Talk” by African-American children’s book author Angela Shelf Medearis.
Rodgers has high praise for the storytellers too. The original plan was for those board members in that March meeting to read, but the series inspired others to participate. Storytellers now include former summer- camp students, parents, artists, and viewers who saw the stories and wanted to share their own favorites.
“The storytellers are so neat,” says Rodgers. “One lady reads Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” and she’s dressed up in her pajamas and she has her dog with her.” One reader has a blanket around her and others use props too.
“You can’t go to the library and get a book, but here is a book at your doorstep and you get a person telling the story as well,” says Rodgers. “Books make you feel warm and cozy so that’s why we are doing it.”
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