In March 2020, the pandemic suddenly canceled my weekly two-hour visits to the East Oakland preschool where I’d been doing storytimes since 2015. So, I recorded one single storytime video for the kids to watch at home… which became over 52 different storytime videos created over two years, addressing topics like consent, incarceration, disability activism, Blackness and fine arts, and plain old joy.
Since starting this project, I ran my first-ever fundraiser, raising $3200 and providing hot meals for over 300 of our neighbors in need through the efforts of Café Gabriela, St. James Infirmary, and East Oakland Collective. I made the decision to go back to school, earning my Associate Teacher Permit for working in preschools (not just volunteering!). I was granted my first-ever artist residency, at Riveropolis Studios, and I wrote and illustrated my first-ever picture book, Yonth & Ed In Grocery Switch. I also tracked and published demographic data about the authors and illustrators whose books I read, as well as the characters in the books, as a way of holding myself accountable to my goals of presenting my storytime kids with ‘mirrors’ of themselves and their experiences. I received some really incredible fan mail and fan art of myself (!). And, I hope, I got better at figuring out what makes a good storytime in our changing world, when we can’t always be in the same space with the people we care about and are trying to connect with.
I couldn’t have done any of this by myself. Thanks to Solitaire Miguel and Ramon Solis for taking on video production for the final few videos; thank you Emily Alden Foster for supporting me in everything I do; thanks to every grownup and kid — viewers like you! — who watched a video, shared a video, imitated a video, or otherwise spent some time with these videos and these books. Thanks to the authors, artists, agents and publishers who’ve shown their support for these videos. Thanks to my kid for being my audience member, cohost, and critic. Thanks to Oakland Public Library’s Books for Wider Horizons program for laying the foundation for this project. And thanks to my storytime kids and teachers at my volunteer site, who keep letting me know they’re watching and laughing along with me.
These videos will stay up for as long as I can keep them up. That’s a wrap! Let’s do something new together! — Mr. Channing
Video: Q&A with me on ALL IN TV, about racial equity and access in both zine fests and in literacy outreach programs for kids. Broadcast on SF Commons TV as part of San Francisco Zine Fest. More info here.
The first-ever Mr. Channing’s Storytime Fund Drive was a huge success— we raised $3250.50 (a bit more than my goal of $1000, lol) and were able to feed 300 of our neighbors at St. James Infirmary and East Oakland Collective, with enough left over to tip for the staff at Café Gabriela!
Thanks to everyone who pitched in on my birthday to raise $300 for the Fill Hotels Not Graves fundraiser, benefiting our unhoused neighbors here in Oakland. There is still time to donate!
Bay Area filmmaker, musician, and all-around art dad Cyrus Yoshi Tabar stops by the glamorous and palatial PHOWM studios! Topics of discussion include: making a documentary about your family secrets, and making the decision to stop making a documentary about your family secrets; finding the tools in your art practice to find yourself; saving your kids from racist predators by teaching them about their own families, connecting to your Japanese and Iranian identities through food when connecting through family isn’t an option. What a treat! Thanks Cyrus!
Cartoonist, memoirist, and incorrigible schemer Tessa Brunton stops by the show, hooray! She discusses being an artist whose practice requires solitude while living with a chronic illness that forces her into solitude against her will, and the full-time job of having to become your own doctor when the medical-industrial complex can’t be trusted (and neither can the people on the alternative medicine messageboards).
Hi! Here’s a single-sheet zine I made back in September to give away at San Francisco Zine Fest 2019, titled FIVE GREAT STORYTIME BOOKS BY AUTHORS OF COLOR. At the link below, you can download a PDF of it which you can then print, fold, and add to your own zine library; repeat as often as you like. (Or you can just read the whole thing by looking at the photos. It’s short!)
Despite being involved with San Francisco Zine Fest and the DIY arts scene for many years, I’ve only ever actually made a couple of zines — usually one per year, the night before the fest, pulling from my screenshots folder in some way — so this is a departure from my usual steez in that it it’s intended to be useful to others! (I did still make it the night before the fest tho. A method is a method)
I made this in part because I pride myself, as a preschool storytime volunteer with a background in racial equity in the arts, as presenting POC-centered stories to my kids — but when I started looking at my favorite books more closely, I found that my carefully curated collection was still mostly white authors. So this zine represents my ongoing efforts to do the best I can by my kids. If you’re a fellow storytime reader looking to bring more #ownstories into your rotation, or if you just have some young kids in your life that you care about, I hope this will be a help to you!
“For me, for a long time, I didn’t see myself as a parent. Then, when I became pregnant with my son, I was like, ‘I don’t feel like I’m ready, but I do know that I really love my partner and that we’ve nurtured our relationship for a long time.’ That became, for me, the bottom line: I don’t know if it’s the right time or anything else, but I do know that my son is a product of love, and that’s something that I’ll always want him to know.”
“I went into engineering because there was that expectation of becoming a doctor or an engineer, and I thought, ‘I can’t be a doctor! I would feel horrible if I killed someone — directly!’ Engineering, bad design, indirectly killing someone? I didn’t feel so bad about that. I didn’t! I didn’t. But.”
“I think it goes for a lot of things, not just being trans. But really, just finding your authentic self, and letting you live an authentic life, allows you to make better and more authentic decisions in other areas of your life.“