While libraries have had to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, reading and storytime is still very much alive. Thanks to local librarians, authors and celebrities around the world, families can now snuggle in to listen to free virtual storytimes whenever we want. Here’s a (growing) list of the local libraries delivering online storytime* as well as some popular authors, celebrities and other interesting storytimes. And being online, we can access literally hundreds more from across the globe by searching #OperationStorytime) on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube.


Local Libraries

Missing your local librarian? You can now watch them reading books each week from the comfort of your home.

City of Parramatta Council Children’s and Youth Services team are busy recording videos of Bibs ‘n’ Bubs (0-2yrs), Toddler Time (2-4yrs) and Storytime (4-6yrs) that you can view anytime via their website.

Librarians at Wentworth Point Library will now be live streaming two Storytime sessions each week via their Facebook page. Bibs and Books (0-2 years) is on Tuesdays from 10:30am to 11am and Storytime (2-5 years) on Wednesdays from 10:30am to 11am.

The library staff in the City of Ryde have been busy preparing online Storytime Sessions so kids can still enjoy some songs and stories at home, with sign language. There’s a playlist on YouTube or you can access them via their website.

Cumberland City Council is providing online storytime sessions via their Facebook page.

Librarians at Blacktown City Council are live streaming two storytime sessions a week via their Facebook page. Storytime is on Thursdays at 10:30am and on Friday there is around the world stories at 10:30am.

Your much loved Storytime at Hawkesbury City Council’s libraries is now online for you to enjoy from your own home. A new episode is released each week with a fun activity to enjoy after each story.


Authors of Children’s Books

There’s a great, long list of authors reading books aloud online. Here are a few key ones and you can check out a longer list here.

7Read Together, Be Together – Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House recently launched Read Together, Be Together. It features daily live storytimes by its celebrity authors Misty Copeland, Danica McKellar, Tiffani Thiessen and Brady Smith, Scott Kelly, and B. J. Novak.

8Harper Kids At Home Storytime

Join the HarperKids team each day at 12pm (EDT) for storytimes and read-alouds, activities, fun content and entertainment. There are appearances from your favourite authors and illustrators as well as special guests. Head to HarperKids on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

9Storytime Online – World Book Day

Watch a wonderful range of famous authors and stars reading children’s books and short stories for kids of all ages. Storytime Online makes storytelling possible at any time of the day—a brilliant way to keep children entertained and a fun way to help develop their language skills.

Join Penguin Kids for storytime each weekday and enjoy a live reading of delightful children’s books via their Instagram account and Facebook page.

11Oliver Jeffers Storytime

Each weekday you can listen to author Oliver Jeffers read his books for younger readers on Instagram. The sessions are live at 5am Sydney time, but thankfully we can watch them anytime afterwards.

The Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence Mo Willems, author of the Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny and Elephant and Piggie series, hosts drawing tutorials daily on Facebook Live. Learn to draw Piggie, Gerald, Pigeon and many other favourites from his home studio.

Read stories with Pete the Cat and artist James Dean, then learn to draw and take part in contests to win groovy prizes each day on Instagram. The live time for these sessions is 3am Sydney time so again…one to watch on catch up 😉


Celebrities

For the enjoyment of both parents and kids, a good number of celebrities are spending some time reading children’s books to us online.

Story Box Library allows children to view stories by local authors and illustrators, being read aloud by fantastic, predominantly Australian and New Zealand storytellers. It’s a subscription based educational website that you can access for FREE through your membership with some local libraries, including Cumberland Council, City of Ryde Council, Hills Shire Council and Hornsby Shire Council.

In partnership with Save the Children and No Kid Hungry, Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams are offering stories on Instagram and Facebook to provide fun and education to kids and parents stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak. They’re asking for donations to help Save the Children and No Kid Hungry make sure schools and community programs have the support they need to keep brains and bellies full.

Storyline Online streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations. Readers include Viola Davis, Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, James Earl Jones and Betty White. Storyline Online is available 24 hours a day worldwide. Each book includes supplemental curriculum developed by a credentialed elementary educator, aiming to strengthen comprehension and verbal and written skills for English-language learners. Storyline Online is a program of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.


Other Interesting Online Storytimes

The awesome UOW Early Start Discovery Space has started a Discovery at Home weekly program, with new videos, activities and shows each weekday at 11am! This includes a weekly storytime (this week on Tuesday). Head to their Facebook page to watch and for more details.

There are lots of pre-recorded storytime sessions (reading space related books) from the International Space Station available at Storytime from Space.

Each weekday at 4pm EDT, record-breaking NASA Astronaut Christina Hammock Koch will read a children’s book on Instagram Live. She recently returned to Earth after 328 days in space!

Second Chance Animal Rescue in Melbourne are providing a virtual storytime every Tuesday and Thursday morning at around 9:30am via their Facebook page. It’s run by staff and volunteers as a way to give back to the community during these hard times. It focuses on animal stories with special animal guest appearances.


* The Australian virtual/ online storytime sessions are only possible due to a special arrangement by Books Create Australia (collaboration between the Australian Booksellers Association, the Australian Library and Information Association, the Australian Publishers Association and the Australian Society of Authors). While we practice social distancing and libraries are temporarily closed, they’ve allowed them to make recordings or livestream their storytimes so children aren’t denied this important and much-loved service. Similar arrangements have been made in other countries to comply with copyright.

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