What is ‘Teachers’ Storytime’?
‘Teachers’ Storytime’ is a new YouTube channel that we’re packing full of stories and well loved picture books.
There are children in every community who aren’t getting bedtime stories. Some parents are working and aren’t available for a snuggle and a story, some parents aren’t confident readers themselves, some can’t afford books, local libraries are closing at an alarming rate. Teachers’ Storytime, if we get it up to some scale, could be the reading voice that a child learns to associate with the comfort of a story at bedtime.
There are other channels for stories. CBeebies broadcast their bedtime stories and lots of them are available on iPlayer. Maybe there’s no need for our new channel at all! Well, maybe not quite. I know of a number of children from my school who enjoy watching the strange collection of videos on my personal YouTube channel on repeat. I can guarantee that they’re not watching for the quality of the material, it must be that they enjoy seeing a familiar and trusted face on their screens – even when there’s more exciting options just a click or two away!
Teachers should be pretty good at telling, and reading, stories. A lot of us are reading for our classes on a daily basis anyway and we need to have some control over our voice production. Most teachers are motivated to some extent by a liking for working with children so we can assume that most of us have a degree of warmth – we’re the A-Team of bedtime story readers. A whole lot of us have been reading stories to our children, and maybe grandchildren, for a few years too.
I think a lot of children will be excited to see ‘their teacher’ on screen and that they will stay with the channel to see familiar faces with warmth and authenticity reading well loved stories. If I’m wrong we’ll find out soon enough but, and this is important, if just one child finds the warmth and the love of language that they might otherwise be getting from a reading parent or carer from our channel – then we haven’t wasted our time.
Can I get involved?
I was hoping you’d ask that. Of course you can, just record yourself reading or telling a story and send it to me via a Dropbox or googledrive link so I can pop it up on the channel. You don’t need any hi-tech equipment – the camera and microphone on an ipad, smartphone or laptop are more than up to the job, and you don’t have to be a whizz at editing, just start recording, tell us what you’re reading and stop recording when you have finished. Don’t worry if you’re not a teacher – if you’d like to be involved you can be involved.
What about copyright?
Ok, that’s a sensible question. An author, illustrator or publisher could reasonably argue that we’re breaching their copyright by sharing these videos and we need to be careful about that. I make sure I credit the author, illustrator and publisher both on screen and in the description of the video on the channel. I add ‘all rights remain with the author, illustrator and publisher’.
The first video on the channel was ‘Refuge’ by Anne Booth. Anne said she was very happy that her story was being used by teachers and shared and that she had no issues with the video. That was very kind and gracious of her, and we do thank her. If she, or Sam Usher the illustrator or Nosy Crow the publisher had expressed any concerns we would, of course have taken the video down without question or delay. I do not believe that we are likely to have any such problems however, if our channel gets a few views it will serve as a publicity to some extent and might lead to some sales – I do not believe that any child having watched our low tech videos is less likely to buy a copy of any of the books. We will see.
A parallel of this is the actions record companies take when their music is used on videos on YouTube. The majority do not block the videos but instead place an advertisement alongside it leading to a site where the music can be purchased. They know that they are, in effect, receiving free publicity for their product. My guess is that publishers will accept the positive motivation for the channel and choose to treat it the same way.
What do I do again?
Choose a story, preferably one that you’re really familiar with. Record yourself in one unbroken shot – any fluffs and hesitations are absolutely fine and part of the normal ‘reading with carers’ ambiance. Before starting the story introduce the book showing the cover front and back carefully and very clearly crediting the author, illustrator and publisher. Read the story as you would to a child, if that means stopping sometimes to draw attention to details in illustrations in pictures or to remark on something a child might easily miss that’s fine. Credit the author, illustrator and publisher again at the end of the video. Send a Dropbox or google drive link via DM to @TchsStorytime on twitter. Please include the name of the book and details of author illustrator and publisher in your DM so I can get those details right on the description.
If you are happy to tell a story orally without a book that is brilliant – please do. It is still good etiquette to say where you got the story from. ‘I learned this story from the story telling of Chris Smith’ is fine or ‘I learned to tell this story from ‘100 Stories for Telling’ by James Smith, published by Hawthorn Press’ for example.
What stories have been done already?
I will try to keep this up to date – if lots and lots of people send me videos I will prioritise getting them up online ahead of keeping this list updated however and I am generally fairly busy…
Refuge by Anne Booth, illustrated by Sam Usher
I want my Hat Back, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
Mr Benn, written and illustrated by David McKee
I Will Not, Never Ever Eat a Tomato written and illustrated by Lauren Child
Coming Home, written by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Kerry Hyndman
Alfie Wins a Prize, written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes