We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jason, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Regarding “The Storytime Show” on Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqD6bom2Q8SIt7SoyRt7CZQ Kids The needs of kids. The emotional needs of kids – specifically, especially now in a time when they are separated from their friends and extended family. I think I never really forgot how to be a kid, in a world of screaming SpongeBobs, I think sometimes kids need a little time to chill and daydream and wonder and listen to something less explosive. I want to create a space where kids can still feel entertained but also feel safe and experience their feelings and have them validated. In a time of Sesame Street, Dusty’s treehouse, Reading Rainbow and Captain Kangaroo, we were the first generation of virtual learners for both academic and emotional education. I want to give kids that same feeling of being centered and that same confidence that we were taught by the likes of Fred Rogers. I try to provide exposure to the arts, diversity in careers, exploring social and emotional issues even if it’s an animated comic that helps digest what you’re learning, because these things are next to impossible to provide in a classroom, whether in a physical or virtual sense. 

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Unexpected. That’s the best I can describe this. I’ve had a love of science fantasy and adventure serials since I first saw Star Wars and the old original Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials of the 30’s and 40’s. I’ve written, illustrated and published seven KnightWatchers books in the last ten years – and yet here I am. A host to a children’s show on YouTube … and I love it. I’d be Story J from here to retirement if I can. The Storytime Show began as a daycamp special activity at the summer camp I worked for ten years ago. With Covid, I had to restructure my platform to go online as I couldn’t risk being exposed going in-person. But with that meant I had to walk away from my position as both a camp specialist and an art teacher. As much as it broke my heart to have to say goodbye to being Story J in person, it meant I could now reach more students online from anywhere, not just in Southern California. The Storytime Show isn’t only a read aloud show, but integrates animation, drawing tutorials, virtual field trips and interviews with artists from every community, young and old. I get to be different characters, I get to animate my own stories, teach kids how to draw different characters, and most importantly, showcase other artists of color and storytellers from every culture and community that often get dismissed, glossed over for characters with “universal appeal” or simply overlooked. Basically I get to be my whole self in one medium.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, here’s what I remember doing before the days of Covid. I loved hikes at Griffith Park, seeing the Hollywood sign pondering a time when it said Hollywoodland. I loved eating at Little Jewel of New Orleans because it reminded me of home. I loved going to the New Beverly with my wife every weekend, seeing a matinee from our childhood and spotting the occasional celebrity while secretly hoping we’d bump into Quentin Tarantino. We loved the drive-in on Vineland. We’d get a late night at the One-Up in Sherman Oaks and top it off with a nightcap and a PB&J at the Local Peasant in Woodland Hills. We love movies with Q and A’s, old cartoons and a bookstore when we find one. As far as exciting people, I’d have to say that my view has changed since Covid. Since we’ve been inside and since I’ve been doing this for the last few months showcasing other artists and authors, Black, Latinx, LGBTQ. I’m getting other peoples stories, and I’m not talking about the books they send, but THEIR stories. These people have been through some of the most challenging times and this was BEFORE 2020. This feels like a gift, to connect with not just kids but grown ups too.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Fred Rogers. Mr. Rogers was one of the first virtual teachers on an emotional educational level that I can remember. He was the first to acknowledge feelings of a child in a way that really honed in, not the academic but the emotional nurturing of a child. He recognized we were in a culture of competition where boys are ‘expected’ to be stoic and solve problems with your hands, whereas he told boys its ok to cry just as he told girls its ok to be smarter or stronger. No feeling is assigned to a gender, and everyone is worth hearing and seeing. He knew no matter how silly it might make him look to adults, his mind was never there. He looked for the helpers, and he became one.

Instagram: @knightwatchersbooks
Youtube: https://youtube.com/channel/UCqD6bom2Q8SIt7SoyRt7CZQ

Image Credits
Jason Williams, Lisa Rahm

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