Bowling Green, KY. (March 20, 2020) – In elementary school, my favorite time was storytime. The class would plop down around Mrs. Denny, each of us sprawled out on our own cushion in whatever position was the most comfortable, listening attentively as our teacher read to us. Sometimes she’d show us the pictures, and our imaginations would wander.
Today, March 20, is World Storytelling Day, which celebrates that tradition of telling stories and listening to the written word. Though this year we find many libraries closing temporarily due to virus fears, broadband is still making it possible to share stories with both adults and children.
Digital technology did not make the same splash in the book market as it did in other media markets like news and video. Ebooks make up a much smaller segment of the market segment than physical books; a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center showed that only about one-quarter of adults (26 percent) had read an ebook in the 12 prior months, compared to 67 percent who had read a print (physical) book in that same time. According to the Association of American Publishers 2019 annual report, ebook sales among their members have been declining over the past few years. Market analysts at Statista, though, show ebook sales growing worldwide, with an annual revenue of $14.4 billion and more than 1 billion users anticipated in 2020. Still, America is the largest buyer of ebooks (according to market data by Statista), followed by Japan and China.
For kids who enjoy a good story, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) foundation has created Storytime Online, an award-winning children’s literacy website where well-known actors read children’s books aloud, alongside illustrations. According to the project’s website, reading aloud to children can improve reading comprehension, writing and communication skills, logical thinking and concentration, and general academic performance, as well as inspire a lifelong love of reading. The fact that the online videos garner over 100 million views per year show that teachers, parents, and caregivers are making use of this offering (and many adults, I’m sure – who doesn’t want to watch Betty White read Harry the Dirty Dog, or Kristen Bell [Anna from Disney’s Frozen] reading with gusto about Quackenstein?).
Storytelling can do amazing things for kids and adults alike. You can tell us about some of the stories that influenced you as a child and whether they are available on YouTube or some other online source. Tell us your favorites in the comments below.
About the Author: Chris McGovern is the Director of Research Development for Connected Nation. He works with Connected Nation staff and external stakeholders to develop research deliverables and provide critical analysis. He uses qualitative and quantitative techniques to interpret data, formulate reports, and make substantiated recommendations based on research findings.
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