February 13, 2006

Story Time brings children’s lit to the masses

Not everyone taking in Maurice Poe’s education class is actually a student. Some aren’t even grown-ups.

The Sacramento State teacher education professor teaches Literature for Children to aspiring teachers both in the classroom and as a televised broadcast throughout the Sacramento Region. But the course’s opening act, “Story Time” featuring award-winning storyteller and performer Francie Dillon, has become must-see viewing for Sacramento-area children and their parents.

The combination literature course and television show airs Mondays at 7 p.m. during the fall and spring semesters on Community Access channel 15. Story Time features the songs and stories of a children’s program—minus any purple dinosaurs—along with relevant material for future teachers.

Sacramento State has offered Literature for Children for more than 45 years, and it has always been a popular with students, Poe says. The course got a fresh look a few years ago when Poe invited Dillon to come to a class to demonstrate story-telling not only to his students in the classroom, but to the students taking the course from home as a distance education course.

The performance—which included a demonstration on the guitar on adapting and telling stories through music—was a hit. Dillon continued to be part of the class and even took over for Poe during an illness.

Along the way, Poe and Dillon recognized that because the class is televised, they were also reaching non-student parents and their children. For Story Time, they choose stories that are appropriate for reading in the home as well as the classroom. After, Poe continues with that night’s lesson.

“A major goal of Story Time is to model for parents the art of storytelling and story reading and emphasize the role parents play in promoting language and literacy development in the home,” Poe says.

Poe says several parents have e-mailed him to say they had discovered Story Time while “surfing channels” and that they now gather their children around the television to listen to a story.

Dillon, a frequent guest at festivals and at Fairytale Town, also hears from parents who have become weekly viewers. The popular performer is the recipient of a National Parents’ Choice Approval Award and a Best Newcomer Award for her CD “The Toy Box.”

Laurie Hall



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