SBCC community reads diverse children’s books in video series

City College student Hunter Hawkins reads “Drum Dream Girl” by Margarita Engle and Rafael López for SBCC Story Time. The video series is produced by City College’s chapter of Sigma Chi Eta.

Eric Evelhoch, Staff Writer

City College’s Sigma Chi Eta chapter is encouraging the Santa Barbara community to take a look at what’s in a book, and highlighting diversity across the “Reading Rainbow.”

“SBCC Story Time” is a new online video series where City College students and staff read children’s books out loud. Viewers can enter a raffle for a chance to win a copy of the books presented in each episode.

Chapter President Yos Ramirez and Vice President Evelyn Bailey said a key focus while putting the project together has been to feature “stories with a good message” while putting emphasis on being “inclusive and modern.”

“It’s possible to find some really great and engaging kids books that also have bigger messaging going on,” said Faculty Adviser Sarah Hock. “With the help of our readers, who’ve helped offer ideas for different stories to be read, that’s really helped us come up with some great offerings.”

The aims of the video series resonated with City College student Hunter Hawkins, who read “Drum Dream Girl” by Margarita Engle and Rafael López in the first episode.

“It really helps us connect in a way that we aren’t able to with COVID right now, especially addressing the kids directly,” Hawkins said. “It’s a beautiful way to show that we care.”

The Luria Library has been offering a list of potential titles as well as helping ensure the presenting readers can get the books. A link to the playlist of all the episodes is posted on the library website.

Sigma Chi Eta is the community college honors society of the National Communications Association. City College became the first chapter to earn a grant from the organization and is using the funding to produce the series.

New episodes of “SBCC Story Time” will be produced through the remainder of the spring semester. Anyone who would like to read for the series is welcome and encouraged to participate.

“If people are interested in learning more about the project in any way they can reach out to me via email, and I’m happy to connect with them and provide more information,” Hock said.

Ramirez and Bailey were the only student members attending every weekly meeting as the project came together during the fall semester.

“We were brainstorming ideas and thought this would be a fun way to help students and parents who need some time for their kid(s) to watch a book and do something educational,” Bailey said.

To produce the series, Ramirez handles campus outreach and Bailey is the video editor. Alex Zhao joined later in the first semester to help with social media, and Bess Zumwalt put together graphics.

Offering stories reflecting different life backgrounds that are part of the City College community has been a connecting thread for the project.

“I think it’s really nice coming from the school that I attend that I can show [my son] how we all feel,” Ramirez said.