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In The Time Of Coronavirus Distancing, A Wisconsin Teen Moves His Daily Storytime Session Online

1 High School Senior Hopes To Help Life Feel Normal For Young Children

High school student Oscar Telschow with picture book for story time
Oscar Telschow is a senior at Stratford High School in Wisconsin. He hosts “Storytime with Oscar” via Facebook every weekday. Photo courtesy of Olivia Telschow

During the novel coronavirus pandemic, many people are trying to figure out how to maintain a sense of normalcy despite the restrictions on gathering with others. That might mean working or going to school from home, ordering groceries to be delivered, or having social “get-togethers” over the internet instead of in person.

For one high school student, that means taking his storytimes for young children online.

Oscar Telschow is a senior at Stratford High School in Stratford. With plans to become a teacher, Telschow was gaining classroom experience by reading to preschoolers at the local elementary school every day.

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Everything changed when schools closed to slow the spread of COVID-19 earlier this month. But Telschow decided he wasn’t going to stop storytime.

Now, he hosts “Storytime with Oscar” online each weekday, which he hopes will give the children a sense of normalcy.

“I guess it’s kind of one of those things where if they didn’t have it, maybe they wouldn’t feel normal,” he said. “But if I keep doing it, make everything feel normal for them, and I guess it just kind of makes sure … we all know it’s just going to all be all right in the end.”

Oscar’s mom, Olivia Telschow, helps with the effort. She said every morning they collect comments and shout-outs, and Oscar recognizes different storytime attendees online.

She said her son “immediately had this sad look on his face. I asked him why, and he told me, ‘Remember that little boy who ran up to me after the football game against Edgar and gave me that huge hug? That’s John. Boy, do I miss that kid’s hugs right now.’ I think at that point, he realized if he misses them, he’s sure John misses them too.”

With libraries closed along with schools, it could be challenging to have material for storytime. But Oscar’s been creative there, too. He’s reached out to a lot of authors for permission to read their books online, and many have sent him a copy of their books.

Some authors have even reached out to Oscar to offer their books. Wisconsin author Missy Mittel contacted Oscar and gave him permission to read one of her books, “I Love You More Than Macaroni & Cheese,” on Facebook. His mom said Oscar “points out in the videos the personalized messages she writes on the inside covers that brighten his day.”

When Oscar was doing storytime in person, he would read to 10 or 12 children at a time. Now, with the live storytimes online and people tuning in to watch the videos later, he’s had as many as a few thousands views for individual sessions.

You can watch “Storytime with Oscar” online at 11 a.m. weekdays. It streams on the Facebook page for his family’s business, Helene’s Hilltop Orchard.

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