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Adding virtual storytelling to the bedtime routine

Carolyn Huizinga Mills of Breslau is the author of The Little Boy who Lived Down The Drain. [Submitted]
Carolyn Huizinga Mills of Breslau is the author of The Little Boy who Lived Down The Drain. [Submitted]

With time indoors starting to drag on and current seasons of shows getting ready to end, people are finding new ways to keep others in the community entertained. From celebrity musical performances to new shows created from the comfort of people’s homes, new ideas for content are coming out every week.

Being added to that list is a new series created by two local mothers who wanted to add some fun to the bedtime routine for kids and bring families together by starting the series ‘Bedtime Stories with …’

Alisha Zoethout and Aimée Puthon came up with the idea for the series after reminiscing about their times going to the library when they were younger, to see authors such as Robert Munsch do readings of their books. They decided bringing something like this to an online format for families during the current situation, would give everyone a chance to connect through storytelling from celebrities in the area.

“My hope for doing this Facebook page was to actually bring families together, build relationships, certainly enjoy the company and enjoy a story and have that sense of just being together,” said Zoethout. “It’s been a crazy ride over the past eight weeks now and with this kind of a sense of calm and normalcy I think … having a small child it was a routine that we did every single night and it was looking forward to something in the midst of maybe some not so great news.”

She says her hope from doing this was to give parents a chance to sit back, relax and take in the story.

When they started the series, Zoethout and Puthon planned on keeping things local having dignitaries and celebrities read books. But they realized very quickly that more people were interested in taking part and they’ve had guests taking part from a much larger area.

Notable guests that have taken part in the series thus far include Fred Penner, Leah Pinsent, Shaun Benson and local author Carolyn Huizinga Mills.

Huizinga Mills is a Breslau resident and author of the children’s book ‘The Little Boy Who Lived down the Drain.’ She has taken part in the series twice, both on March 28 and most recently May 7.

She says the reaction was great and comments were amazing from people who were engaging with the reading, with some even sending her photos of them and their kids as they’re “snuggled up under the blanket watching the reading.”

“Lots of authors are doing these readings, it’s kind of like the way the singers are singing at home and still trying to share their craft with the audience,” said Huizinga Mills. “It’s just another way for people to interact – parents still have books and can read their kids bedtime stories, but maybe a more interesting way to interact and have an author read them the story, or hear it in a different voice or do a little song with it.”

She says this is also beneficial for authors to get their names out there and gain exposure they may not be getting otherwise for their books.

Each reading runs between 10 and 30 minutes; so far, videos average about 1,000 views.

Zoethout says for the future of the series, they plan on working with the Guelph Public Library to expand and adapt to changes as things start to get back to normal.

Currently, the series is taking a brief hiatus as Zoethout and her partner implement changes and get their continued line-up of guests set. She says working with publishers and authors to get permission to read books will also take place during the time off.

To watch already aired episodes of ‘Bedtime Stories with …’ visit their Facebook page.

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