For the last 30 years, the StoryTime  Guild has been serving the community in three counties by reading to children.

For the last 30 years, the StoryTime Guild has been serving the community in three counties by reading to children.

Photo provided by The StoryTime Guild

StoryTime Guild promotes literacy in underserved schools

By: Mary Genson | Metro | Published March 22, 2023


METRO DETROIT — The StoryTime Guild is celebrating over 30 years of reading and telling stories to children in underserved schools in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties.

When the organization began in 1992, it was founded in honor of Helen Southgate Williams, who devoted her life to educating children through storytelling. The StoryTime Guild now consists of volunteers who come from all three counties. 

There are currently 59 members and 20 active storytellers. Members come from 22 different communities.

Council Member Emeritus Linda D. Wilson has been a part of the group since 2006 and has served in many offices.

“We take anyone who loves children and good literature,” Wilson said.

Council Chair Eileen Britsky has been an active member of the organization for about 11 years. She said one of her favorite parts of being a member is reinforcing the love of reading in children.

“I really like the people that are in it, because we have a common bond and purpose,” Britsky said. “Even though every member is not a reader, they still enjoy our programs, support what we are doing and believe in our purpose of promoting literacy.”

Prior to COVID-19, what was then under the name “StoryTellers Guild” was seeing an average of 3,130 students at least once a month in 12 districts and 22 schools.

However, once the pandemic started, they were no longer able to read to the children in person at the schools. They still managed to use technology to read to students virtually.

During this time, they decided to reincorporate. They became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization in 2020 and changed their name from the StoryTellers Guild to the StoryTime Guild. They also moved meetings from the Community House to the Birmingham Unitarian Church, which is almost equidistant from all of the different areas where members live.

Now the StoryTime Guild is back in classrooms reading to children. The guild plans to read approximately 883 hours — including preparation time — this school year. They plan to read to 1,075 students in seven school districts, 11 schools and 46 classrooms.

“We have done poetry, history, science and math, because you try to do as many different things as you can,” Wilson said. “You are there to enrich and to supplement, because the teachers have so much on their plate.”

In addition to the book that they read to the classes, the StoryTime Guild provides further enrichment to the students by purchasing new books for each school.

Each school year, volunteer storytellers are given funds to buy new books for the school library where they volunteered. This year, volunteers were given $100 in credit to purchase books at the Book Beat in Oak Park, where the StoryTime Guild is given a 20% discount.

They choose books from award-winning authors and illustrators that are designed to spark greater interest in students.

The funds for book purchases come from the spring luncheon.  This year, the luncheon is on April 20 at the Birmingham Unitarian Church, with the theme “High Times in Dry Times.”

Storyteller Lois Sprengnether-Keel will speak at this Roaring 20s speakeasy-themed tea. The fundraiser will also collect items for CASS Community Social Services.

“Not only do we help out with the reading, but we also do tons with charity,” Wilson said.

Each month, members gather at the Birmingham Unitarian Church to listen to presentations.

For more information about the luncheon and joining the StoryTime Guild, visit