I’m this many!

Yellow text against a turquoise background with dotted confetti reads “Lightbulb Heart is three!” An inset photo of Amber, a smiling white woman with curly hair wearing a yellow cardigan, who leans her head on her hand and elbows on a stack of children’s books. She sits on park steps and  is crowded by turquoise and coral cartoon balloons.
Photo credit: Suzuran Photography

Happy 3rd birthday to my story baby, Lightbulb Heart!

Birthday #2 was rightfully sidelined by pandemic. I consoled myself that I had at least gotten to eat cupcakes and read aloud with kiddos at the Paper Bag Princess events at Epic Books.

This last year has been hard for us all, and I’m taking a moment to mark some of the hurdles, disappointments, and joys I’ve encountered with my little biz child. I started a YouTube channel and more intentionally locally lending my library, wrote (and rewrote) a ton, made some noise for local equity and access orgs, and began a couple of local and cross-border collaborations that have been incredibly rewarding – one of which you’ll get to see the fruits of on March 20, so stay tuned!

I’m so grateful for all of the caregivers and teachers who entrusted their kiddos to me over Zoom, FaceTime, MarcoPolo, Messenger, and YouTube. You have been a real source of solace and purpose for me this last year and I cannot thank you enough!

I also could not have gotten through all of these months of isolation without the beautiful people of A Shared Table’s Storylab who kept me inspired, making, and going. 🥰

I’m taking a breath, blowing out some candles, and on to year 4!

Stories Cannot be Quarantined

If you have tried to do a live group sing with kids over Zoom, you know this particular brand of face-palming dread:

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands

So, it’s not easy, but even under a stay-home order, I am deeply encouraged by the myriad ways we have found to share stories! Authors, illustrators, actors, musicians, educators, parents – we’ve all taken to the internet to bring our favourites and new creations to life. Josh Gad continues to slay stories on Twitter. Monique Gray Smith, Oliver Jeffers, Mo Willems, and Mac Barnett are thoroughly delightful, and Julie Andrews’ story podcast starts Wednesday! Please check out Resources for School Closures for lots of stories, visual/performing arts options, and other educational resources.

Here at Lightbulb Heart, I’m working on a three story-related projects:

Image: Picture of a laptop. Amber is smiling on the laptop screen. The child she was reading to placed twelve plastic dinosaurs on the laptop keyboard.
  1. Hangouts

I’m doing live online storytimes twice daily, with songs and stories tailored to that kid’s/kids’ interests.

If you are interested in the as-close-as-we-can-get-right-now storytime experience, let me know! (Please include day/time availability and what chat platform you prefer.) My personal children’s book collection is available online if you have requests. If you are in a position to do so, I’m requesting donations be made to your local food bank or relief organization of your choice.

One of my storytime kiddos gave me a dinosaur audience this week! ⭐

Picture courtesy of Tami Clark

2. Virtual Storytime: Songs and Stories with Lightbulb Heart

I’m posting a public domain book chapter, poem, story, or song to Lightbulb Heart on YouTube every weekday. I’ll conclude Alice in Wonderland (one chapter left!) and start reading the Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter and My Father’s Dragon next week! The channel has been a lot of fun and is giving a little shape to my days. It’s Tuesday, right?

3. A Shared Table – Creative Lab for Storytelling

Instagram post from A Shared Table describing the Storytelling Lab. Text reads: A creative lab for storytelling. A space to share, document and archive our personal narratives. The storytelling Lab is a space for BIPOC folx who want to share, document and archive their personal stories. We will use a sense of play, our intuition, our memories, and the wisdom that comes from life experience to locate the stories that we want to keep for ourselves and the stories we want to share. BIPOC = folx who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Colour.  Participants will be guided by facilitators who are committed to honouring the wisdom of each person and the complexity of each story. This creative lab will prepare you to share the personal story of your choosing in a large group setting using your voice, pen, and camera as your tools of communication.

I believe deeply in the community Bernadette Arthur is breathing into existence at A Shared Table. The Creative Lab for Storytelling is just one or her amazing ventures. The process is different than we had originally envisioned since we’ve had to pivot to all-online sessions for now, but our time together has been so rich and beautiful. I am very grateful for our weekly gatherings and look forward to being in physical space where other folks can join us in sharing stories.

A Shared Table has also partnered with En Conjunto for a series of Digital Dine-Ins – so many cool people gathering weekly to share a meal together (virtually) and talk about awesome things. Sue Littleton and I will be co-hosting one about children’s books on June 10th!

Image: an animated version of a photograph taken at Locke Street Farmer's Market. Amber reads a picture book to gathered families.

I miss Locke Street Farmer’s Market.
And Epic Books.
And Donut Monster.

Until we find ourselves back in these glorious spaces, let us continue to cultivate creative ways to share stories and be in community together.

Stay Home.
Wash Hands.
Be Kind.
Share Stories.
Love, Amber