Blurry Photo of Storytime on FaceTime.

Before the pandemic, I helped a Somali high school student with his studies for an hour each week in the family home, then I had story time with his three younger siblings. This wasn’t the usual story time.  I didn’t read to them.  They read to me.  We all loved the time together and they were proud of their improvement in reading ability as each of the younger ones learned how to read well enough to become a reader during story time.


I have learned that the pandemic doesn’t need to stop story time or other ways of connecting with our Somali families.


When the pandemic caused my tutoring to be done remotely, story time stopped.  One day I realized we could continue to have story time, using FaceTime.  Each week we get together remotely, and now I get to read, too.  I choose from my collection of children’s books from my sons’ younger days and hold the book to the computer camera so they can see the pictures while I read.  When my story is finished, their mom asks each one what they most liked about the story or some other appropriate question. Last week, I read a funny story about a big kid who stole a little kid’s school lunch every day, until the little kid tricked him with bad tasting food.  During our discussion time, the mom and I suggested the best way to get rid of bullies is to tell the teacher, though the two boys favored a karate chop.

After I read my story, each of the three kids reads a story to me that they have selected. I help them with words they don’t know and sometimes explain American idioms, such as “hit the sack” that the mom doesn’t understand. I have learned that the pandemic doesn’t need to stop story time or other ways of connecting with our Somali families.