Olympia Storyteller Chris Sabatini Gives Children the Gifts of Music, Art and Nature


Olympia storyteller Chris Sabatini merges his many talents into community experiences that build literacy skills, embrace musical expression and allow children to explore their new world. Sabatini’s local contributions include Timberland Regional Library story times, an Olympia radio show, stop-action animation films and running a school with his wife Tiffany.

Sabatini’s Foundations in Creativity

Being able to create multi-faceted experiences involving story, song and art come from Sabatini’s diverse set of creative talents. Art and music have always been part of his life, and he plays guitar, banjo and ukulele. As a sketch artist, Sabatini had a regular table at the Olympia Comics Festival, made self-published comics and had a series of his own. He created Washington State Zine Fest contest posters and extended that artwork into bilingual reading posters for the Washington Center for the Book.

Chris Sabatini playing a ukele in a structure in the woods to some kids
Incorporating song into story times is one of Chris Sabatini’s many talents, which also include drawing, making stop-action animation and hosting a local radio show Photo credit: Tiffany Sabatini

Storytimes at the Timberland Library Before, During and After the Pandemic

Sabatini started working for the Timberland Regional Library in 2014 and helped with a few art programs. An excited, young library crowd gathered for the Superhero Day event where he drew their costumed portraits. He was a natural working with kids, and the head of the youth department encouraged him to apply with the library youth services department. Each week Sabatini led children’s story times with self-made, support materials such as felt and magnet board drawings.

“I wanted the kids to be able to remember the songs that we did at story time,” Sabatini says, “so I started making little coloring books that had pictures from the songs. On the back they had all the lyrics and guitar chords for parents at home who could play. That really got me pairing music and story together.” And, to create just the right sound for his young audience, he also made a banjo-ukulele.

Like most in-person events, COVID-19 brought story times to a halt. But not for long as Sabatini led story time remotely, and then worked with the Timberland Regional Library and the City of Olympia Parks to set up StoryTrails. Picture-book pages on short posts stood along park pathways so families with kids could get outside for a story.

black and white drawing of a theater screen with the words 'Two Little Blackbirds.'
Sabatini’s “Two Little Blackbirds” was accepted into the Olympia Film Society Locals Only 2023 Short Films Showcase at Capitol Theater. Photo courtesy: Chris Sabatini

Music, Film and Story Cross Paths for Sabatini’s Olympia Events

To further increase story time accessibility during COVID closures, Sabatini made stop-action-animation films capturing story book elements and pairing them with song. His “Two Little Blackbirds” was accepted into the Olympia Film Society Locals Only 2023 Short Films Showcase at Capitol Theater. Sabatini has continued to bring literacy to the youngest in the community. He has held story times at the WET Science Center, local farmers markets, Capital Mall, Orca Books and most recently Browsers bookstore in Olympia.

Many story time parents are musicians too, and Sabatini has created Kids Music Jam, a multi-generational space for everyone to contribute music designed for a kid audience. On the fourth Saturday of the month, kids are invited to bring instruments to New Traditions Cafe and play together for an audience.

Chris Sabatini has held storytimes at the WET Science Center, local farmers’ markets, Capital Mall, Orca Books and most recently, as shown here, at Browsers Bookstore in Olympia. Photo courtesy: Browsers Bookstore

“Looking back at when I first learned guitar,” says Sabatini, “I learned so much when I had to try to keep up with somebody or when I got to see other people making mistakes or got to see how other people do the same thing that I’m trying to do. I want to provide a place for that.”

Sabatini has also been sharing his own music interests through his KAOS 89.3 FM radio show Alabama Chrome under his DJ name Jack Decatur since 2012. The Saturday morning program genre is 1930s-70s country music played from used, vinyl records purchased only locally in the Olympia area.

Chris and Tiffany Sabatini’s Ancient Futures School Incorporates the Arts and Nature

While library story times brought together music, art and working with kids, the birth of a daughter added another layer of early education, exploring one’s world. Sabatini and his wife Tiffany, who taught for several years in Olympia, started their own school, Ancient Futures Place-Based Education.

Chris and Tiffany selfie with a little girl in a hat in-between them standing in a woods.
Chris Sabatini (left) and his wife Tiffany (right) started their own school, Ancient Futures Place-Based Education. Photo credit: Tiffany Sabatini

“My wife and I started a nature immersion school. It’s all outdoors, all year long, all four seasons,” he shares. “It’s a way of introducing kids to nature and giving them a space to play. We are mostly open-ended, and we let kids discover on their own. We give prompts and guides, but mostly we stand back and see how they are interacting with the world, and really try to give them a chance to love nature and love the world before the rest of education comes in and forms them. I feel that nature, and the community they figure out by working together, is giving them the best starting point for learning.” The Sabatinis lead a group of little ones out in parks, along shorelines, through forests and assist them in experimenting with art techniques and materials at their school art studio.

Chris Sabatini is sharing his multiple talents with the Olympia community while inspiring the next generation to also explore the creativity of art, music and story. To join in, add a story time or a Saturday jam session to your plans. To check out Sabatini’s online collections, listen in to KAOS for his presentation of classic vinyl country tunes, or checkout his Vimeo page for animated story films.

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