“I’ve loved sharing and telling stories all my life,” says Catherine Connolly.
“First as a primary school teacher, and then as a mother-of-two, I have always had plenty of opportunities to share my love of stories.
“At home, my children and I read books for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - and they always ask for more! And our kitchen table is always a hive of crafty creativeness.”
Catherine, who lives in Hillsborough with her husband, James, and their children, Alaya and Robyn, set up Little Story Train last November - a group for book-loving toddlers and young children, aged 2-4.
“My husband and I read to both of our daughters from the first day they came home from the hospital,” says Catherine, age 35.
“Reading had always been such a big part of life, from my own childhood, and now with my own children, that I suppose it was only natural that I would become a professional storyteller, which is how Little Story Train came about, because I just wanted to continue sharing my own love and passion for books.
“I launched the first session last year, and this has now grown to four weekly classes across the city. Through this fun-loving, storytelling toddler group I lead children into the world of stories, focusing on one of my favourite children’s books each week.”
Each session starts with a visit from Dottie the puppet, before the Little Story Train chugs into the circle, and the children are given clues as to what book they’ll be looking at that week.
“Once the book’s revealed, we read it aloud together using voices and actions, and the children are encouraged to join in with the various songs, games and actions linked to the story.
“After that, it’s craft time, and we have a different craft each week, linked to the story. The children get to explore different textures and materials, choosing different colours to create their own unique masterpieces.
“Although we always like to have fun, there’s a serious aim to Little Story Train too, and that’s to promote a love of stories that will last a lifetime.
“Books are well known to help create vivid imaginations, fabulous vocabulary and excellent early literacy skills and that’s what we want all the children who come to Little Story train to take home with them.
“We’re creating storytellers of the future!”
Little Story Train runs classes every Monday and Tuesday in term time, in Beighton, Walkley, Deepcar, and Netheredge. Visit Little Story Train on Facebook for details of upcoming classes and events.