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Calgary girl launches online storytelling for kids stuck at home amid COVID-19 pandemic

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. Radana Williams

A five-year-old Calgary girl and her mother have teamed up to help kids stuck at home amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with the launch of a new Instagram account that holds virtual storytelling twice a week.

Radana Williams said the idea of creating Storytime Corner came as she realized how drastically social distancing and self-isolation was going to impact her daughter Fiona’s life – as well as her own.

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“Like many parents, I was watching the closures start rolling in – the schools first, then the rec centers, galleries, museums, libraries, etc. – all these places that we use to enrich our child’s life and fill our day, which can feel very long when you don’t have places to go and things to do,” Williams explained.

“I thought about the impact this would have not only on children but their caregivers, in terms of the social aspect, and started thinking about what small thing we could contribute,” Williams added.

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“Fiona and I both love books and reading and a virtual storytime seemed like a perfect fit. It’s a bit selfish, too. I need structure and schedules in my life.”

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Williams said her hope is that Storytime Corner can help give caregivers a few extra minutes to get some much-needed work done.

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“Throw some laundry on or actually drink their coffee while it’s still hot,” she joked.

“Life has changed so much for so many people. Office and school closures mean that suddenly parents are forced to work from home while taking care of their children, or a stay-at-home parent is suddenly forced to work around a spouse who is at home. It’s stressful whatever your situation.”

The live storytelling also gives Fiona something to focus on now that she can’t go to kindergarten.

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“Fiona loves school and was very upset about the closure,” Williams said.

“I miss my friends,” Fiona said.

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Fiona loves books by Mo Willems.
Fiona loves books by Mo Willems. Radana Williams

Williams said the school closures have been hard on both on them.

“I’m actually really sad about it. I get kind of weepy when I spot her empty backpack or snack box.

“She’s going to miss half of kindergarten and I feel like part of her childhood is being ripped away, At the same time, I’m selfishly happy to have her home with me and being my baby for a little bit longer.”

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Williams said the first few livestreams have gone well.

“People actually came and watched! They seem to love the idea.”

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How to watch Storytime Corner

Follow @Storytime_Corner on Instagram

Fiona and Radana will hold live storytelling sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. MT through Instagram Live.

Fiona’s favourite books

  • Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel
  • Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson
  • Any book by Mo Willems