Story time from Bell’s Farm

With schools and libraries closed during the pandemic, many children may not be reading as much as they normally would.

But one Coupeville Elementary School librarian is attempting to change that by hosting a reading show on Facebook.

In November, Paige Mueller got a head start on her maternity leave from Coupeville Elementary. She said she was mentally preparing to be back in school in April when the coronavirus struck.

So she started recording herself reading children’s stories on Bell’s Farm, where she also works as a farmer, and posting the videos on Facebook. She said making the videos allows her to feel connected with the students.

“Sudden transitions can be really hard,” she said. “And you don’t want to scare the kids, but they have to understand why they can’t be going to school.”

Most of the kids know she is also a farmer, and so she thought it would be fun if she made videos with animals roaming around in the background. She is hoping her videos will get the children interested in reading during the closures.

“It’s this age, elementary age, when you start fostering those habits that are gonna be lifelong habits,” she said. “And finding joy in reading, no matter what the material or genre, is what’s going to translate into adulthood and make you a lifelong learner.”

She said she chooses stories that reflect the farm; she has, for example, read “Ferdinand the Bull” and “The Wonky Donkey.” In her videos she sits down and reads next to the animals. Sometimes they become curious and inspect Mueller as she is reading.

“The animals are used to seeing us at least twice a day,” she said. “But you’ll notice that in the videos they get really curious because they aren’t really used to me sitting in there with the book.”

She said the animals help improve her talents as a storyteller, a skill she said doesn’t come naturally to her.

“Kids are the best audience,” she said. “They think jokes are hilarious, and they don’t know when you’re stuttering or making a mistake; they just know what the story is and what your reaction is.”

n To watch the videos, visit the Bell’s Farm Facebook page.