COLUMBIA – When Sarah Hanson enrolled in her children’s literature course at Hannibal-LaGrange University this spring, she had no idea how God was preparing her.
Now, with campus shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and students continuing their classes online, Hanson, a sophomore early childhood education major, is putting her training to good use by leading an online story time three nights a week. She originally read a book every night, but with the public library closed, fears of exhausting her personal children’s library caused her to ration the books to one each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“I’m friends with a ton of parents with little kids,” Hanson, a member of Midway Heights Baptist, Columbia, said. “I thought maybe I could provide something positive for them. I intentionally keep it focused on the stories and make sure it’s a bright spot in their day instead of reminding them of everything that’s going on in the world right now.”
Since March 21, she’s been doing just that from her home in Columbia.
“Other than the fact that there are no kids in the room with me, it’s just like reading to a classroom full of kids,” Hanson said.
From feedback she’s received, she said she knows there is a huge age range of kids watching, so the books she’s selected from her personal children’s library have spanned a wide range within the genre. Some are for preschoolers, and some are geared toward slightly older children. The book she was preparing when she spoke with The Pathway was historical fiction with some words younger kids might not understand, so she prepared a vocabulary list to accompany the story and ensure no one gets left behind.
As kids around Missouri adjust to learning at home, Hanson said she hopes the books bring them a little cheer. Even though she’s older than her audience – (most of them anyway – one of her HLGU classmates makes it a point to watch them at night to get a bedtime story) she’s in much the same boat as she continues her schooling online from home.
“It’s definitely a different way of doing things,” she said, “and getting motivated can be hard. But I have awesome professors who are checking in with me and helping us adjust.”
One of those courses – her children’s literature class – focuses on how to evaluate quality books for younger readers and how to incorporate them into other lessons and subjects beyond literature. Hanson’s professor is following along with the story time videos and though no extra credit has been offered, it appears she has been taking the subject matter to heart.
To join Hanson for her story time live, search for “Sarah Hanson” (her red hair in her profile picture is easy to spot) on Facebook at 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Past stories are available to watch there as well.