Parents of picture-book readers needn’t leave home to enjoy story time with their children. This week, Barnes & Noble.com debuted its Online Storytime program, videos featuring pan-and-scan filming of picture books accompanied by readings by authors or celebrities. A new Online Storytime entry will be added to the site on the first Tuesday of each month. The inaugural offering features Jane O’Connor narrating her Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly (HarperCollins) along with displays of Robin Preiss Glasser’s illustrations.
Rachel Jarrett, director of kids and lifestyle products for Barnes & Noble.com, explains that Online Storytime was created “to give our customers the same great experience online that they have with their children at our in-store B&N Storytimes. That is a magical experience, and we wanted to capture some of that magic and make it available 24 hours a day.”
The titles spotlighted on the site are selected by collaborative effort among Jarrett, members of her department, and production staffers who create the videos. Jarrett calls Fancy Nancy: Bonjour Butterfly “a perfect story for the program’s launch, since it has a springtime theme, is fun and entertaining, and its artwork is so beautiful—it almost tells the story on its own.”
She notes that Fancy Nancy is among B&N’s most popular picture-book series, as is Jon Scieszka’s Trucktown, which is the second Online Storytime selection. Beginning on July 6, visitors to the site can listen to the author reading his Smash! Crash! (Simon & Schuster) and watch Jack Truck and Dump Truck Dan smashing and crashing in illustrations created by David Shannon, Loren Long, and David Gordon.
For a limited time, those accessing the Online Storytime site will receive a 45% discount on Fancy Nancy books and toys. Similar promotions will be offered in conjunction with subsequent books featured on the site, though Jarrett notes that the terms and length of the promotions are “not set in stone.”
“At the end of the day, the goal of both our in-store story times and Online Storytime is to encourage a love of reading in children,” says Jarrett. “It is great to be able to do this two ways.”