When the shelter in place order was announced in March 2020, one of the first things I thought about was having to cancel a trip to see my young nieces. We were all scheduled to meet on a cruise ship for my nephew’s wedding in April.
I got the idea that I could stay connected to my niece Sonia in New York by reading her stories. A luddite by nature, I felt determined to overcome my technological fears and have some fun. In the first video, I donned a colorful parrot hat at the moment when the character spoke about her pet parrot. My niece enjoyed the book. Then I realized that my other niece’s birthday was coming up, so I read On The Day You Were Born, the book a friend gifted our family when my first son was born. My sister in Miami told me my niece Ella was thrilled to see me on video.
Inspired, I asked my fifteen-year-old son to set up a YouTube channel for me, which he did in twelve minutes. That is how Storytelling with Tia Maria came to be. After posting the first week of stories on my Facebook page, a teacher friend asked me if I would read stories in Spanish. Happy to be able to provide support to students and parents seeking ways to learn at home, I read a couple of books in Spanish.
Storytelling with Tia Maria has become a fun creative outlet for me. I’ve learned that even adults are finding enjoyment. Amie Lam, a bilingual activist and facilitator based in Oakland told me about the value she’s receiving. “Stories are so important, for both children and adults. They give a tangible space for imagination, play, language development, and so much more. For me, the more exposure we have to stories, that are familiar and new to us, the more we learn about the world around us.”
Four-and-a-half-year-old Sonia listened to a story about Winnie the Pooh and friends in Episode 24 and said, “Aaawww cute. The stories are cool.”
When I read a story about grasshopper pie and included a recipe at the end, my nine-year-old niece Kiara was thrilled.“I like Tia Maria’s storytelling because it’s fun and she sometimes includes fun recipes that I can make afterwards.”
Kiara and her two sisters watched the first video in Miami, Florida, and will watch the next release on May 1st from their home in Rosholt, South Dakota. For the May 1, 2020 video I’m doing something different. Instead of reading a story from a book, I’ve written my own story to celebrate Kiara’s birthday, which will include a recipe from the Peanuts Cook Book by June Dutton, a book that I purchased in 1969 for sixty cents!
While the price of books has changed over the years, one thing that hasn’t is the universal love of storytelling. To watch Storytelling with Tia Maria visit: https://tinyurl.com/Storytelling-with-Tia-Maria Please remember to LIKE the story and, if inclined, subscribe to the channel.