From time to time, I revisit a favorite website – Storyline Online – to check out the latest productions of well-known actors reading children’s stories. The book I picked out for today is Library Lion, written by Michelle Knudsen and read by actress Mindy Sterling. If you and your children like libraries and lions, this is the book for you.
Here’s the plotline: “Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, is very particular about rules in the library. No running allowed. And you must be quiet. But when a lion comes to the library one day, no one is sure what to do. There aren’t any rules about lions in the library. And, as it turns out, this lion seems very well suited to library visiting. His big feet are quiet on the library floor. He makes a comfy backrest for the children at story hour. And he never roars in the library, at least not anymore. But when something terrible happens, the lion quickly comes to the rescue in the only way he knows how.”
First off, Mindy Sterling is a reader who exudes warmth. And she skillfully makes up cool voices to bring the characters to life – librarians, children, and lion alike (the latter through some impressive roaring). I especially enjoyed the sound effects and animated illustrations ─ characters dashing across the page, crashing sounds of the librarian’s fall from a step stool, and lion’s tail dusting off book shelves. If I had to choose to read this story to a child in print form (usually my preference) or go online to listen to/watch the video book, I’d choose the latter. This is an entertaining story truly enhanced by the talented reader, and sound and art effects of the video production.
This is my third blog featuring the resources of Storyline Online (see blogs on October 13, 2012; and February 17, 2014). Storyline Online is a program of The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Foundation. The program is grounded in research that “reading to children has been repeatedly shown to improve their reading, writing and communication skills, logical thinking, concentration and general academic aptitude… as well as inspire a love of reading.”  The program records actors reading children’s books accompanied by a graphically dynamic video book. Parents can access the video books any time/anyplace – for free. Many teachers play Storyline Online videos for their students. And, doctors and nurses play these video books for children in hospitals. Since inception of the SAG Foundation’s program, there have been over 50 million views worldwide and millions of views every month.
If you haven’t visited Storyline Online yet, or haven’t been there recently, this is a great website to get your fix of good storytelling, whether you have a child to listen with you or not. My favorites are Elijah Wood reading Me and My Cat, and Betty White reading Harry the Dirty Dog. And now I’m adding Library Lion to the list. Like the lion who likes to go to the library for storytelling, sit back and enjoy some great stories read to you by some great readers.
 Information from < http://sagfoundation.org/childrens-literacy/storyline-online/> The SAG Foundation’s children’s literacy website, Storyline Online, streams imaginatively produced videos featuring celebrated actors including Rita Moreno, Annette Bening, James Earl Jones, Elijah Wood, Hector Elizondo, and Betty White reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations, helping to inspire a love of reading in children. Storyline Online receives over 4.3 million views every month in more than 211 countries. Storyline Online is available 24 hours a day for children, parents, and educators worldwide. For each book, supplemental curriculum developed by a literacy specialist is provided, aiming to strengthen comprehension and verbal and written skills for English-language learners worldwide.