THOUSANDS of children are watching Swindon Libraries' story time sessions streamed on Facebook live during the coronavirus lock down.

While libraries are closed to the public Swindon Libraries decided to live video their 20 minute story and rhyme sessions to service users instead.

The first video proved a massive success - racking up thousands of views online.

“The response has just been incredible,” said Anish Harrison, Swindon Stories Hub manager who led the first live session at the end of March.

“I wasn’t expecting so many people would view it.”

The sessions are part of a project call Swindon Stories, co-ordinated by the National Literacy Trust and funded by WH Smiths, which aims to support literacy needs in Swindon.

Filmed in Swindon Central Library, the inaugural broadcast had two and a half thousand views in less than 24 hours.

“We also had a couple of hundred people watching it as it was being broadcast, which was fantastic,” added Anish.

In total three thousand people viewed the first session in under a week.

The story times are aimed at children aged 0-5 years old.

“I love stories that are fun and evoke good feelings," said Anish. “Books by Nick Sharratt, Julia Donaldson and others are brilliant for that. We stick to about 20 minutes as that’s a good length of time before fidgety bottoms start!”

Anish admitted she was nervous before doing the first live stream.

“I was terrified beforehand,” admitted Anish. “I sing in a band when I’m not working, but my voice was wobbly before-hand!”

She continued: “Each library service is responding and adapting their service to make sure they still reach people, particularly those in isolation, and making sure people still have the support and help they need.”

Swindon Libraries hosted story times before the virus outbreak. The largest audience saw over 100 people come regularly to North Swindon Library.

Anish continued: “There is clearly a need out there for this kind of support for people. It’s vital that the home learning environment is something we promote, especially while children are staying at home instead of going to school.

“Literacy skills are of vital importance, no matter what the situation. If activities such as these take place in the home then children have the best start in life and are more likely to succeed.

“Moreover, these activities offer a source of comfort and bonding for families; it is important therefore that we continue to offer this support for as long as possible,” Anish said.

The story times will be streamed on Tuesdays at 11am, via the Swindon Libraries and Information Facebook page.