Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An Homage to Our Public Library

Since we've been weekly library-goers for about 3 years now, we remember the less attractive days, when the walls looked decidedly seventies and the carpets were dingy. The Children's section was tucked back in a corner of the open floor, and the tweedy, textured wallpaper darkened the space. But the decor didn't bother me. It was nostalgic for me to attend Storytime with little Harper in the place that matched my memories, and where damp, book glue smells brought me back to when I was just beginning to read. I thought this reminiscent experience couldn't be topped, but the remodel completed last year has made our time there all the better. We love our library!

The ambiance is beautiful, fresh, and bright. The Children's Library has its own wing, and the decor is tasteful and calm. It's like a library out of the movies or something.

Here's Jack climbing on the padded "books" in the little kids' section.

But the best part of our Wednesdays at the library is the people who run the show, Miss Valerie, Miss Lisa, and Pierre. Here they are singing the greeting song, "I have a friend, the very best, and we read books together. You are my best friend. You are my best friend. You are my best friend, and we read books together."

Pierre is a volunteer for our library. It is clear he loves to read for the kids because he puts on different voices and really engages the audience. He frequently pauses the story to ask the kids to predict what will happen next. When they know, he always asks, "Have you read this before?" with a bewildered look on his face. Never seen without the Seuss hat, Pierre is an animated reader who keeps the kids' attention.

Miss Valerie leads the show. She chooses the theme for the week, finds stories and songs that dovetail and reinforce the concepts, and keeps everyone entertained. But perhaps most important, she loves my kids. She is so good to them, always friendly and cheerful, always glad to see us. She gave Harper and Jack each a Baskin Robbins gift certificate at the holidays. She has given us countless lollipops, spent silly shakers, special nods and smiles when she sees us arive, and book recommendations. She's also given us CDs of great kids' music, and a soundtrack for this time in our lives: how could we do these young years with out "Shake Your Sillies out?" or "I Know a Chicken?" or "The Noble Duke of Books..." and so many others? She's got a talent for her job and it's so nice to reap the benefit of that.

Miss Lisa joined Miss Valerie about a year ago and she instantly fit. Always kind and sweet to my kids, she has helped us search for the right book to fulfill my children's latest curiosities. She is quick to laugh and very animated when leading a song, acting out a rhyme, or reading a story. She ooo's and aaaah's over Harper and Jack's artwork. She receives my kids lovingly; she makes us feel welcome and encouraged.

We almost always run into buddies there, too. Here's a happy Miles, Isaiah, and Harper shaking their sillies out.

"Shake Your Sillies Out" is basically the library kids' anthem.

And here's Harper greeting Jovial another week.
Speaking of buddies, we usually attend the library with Grandma or Grandpa Paul and Grammer Lynda. It is such a help for me to have a grandparent with me-- to keep an eye on the kids, the purse, the book bag, to return the super heavy bag of (usually about 30) books, to search out and find new books for the next week. Gotta keep our "library shelf" stocked each week with new treasures!

Harper loves it when she's gets called upon to have a starring role in the song or activity. Here she is holding up her pig proudly for the "Old MacDonald" song.

And here she is with another fun prop.

Hmmm... I wonder if this is enjoyable?
Look at this rapt crowd of preschoolers!

It's not unusual for this girl to be so excited about a new book that she begins reading her stack before we've even left the building. Here she is reading a book about princesses, one of her favorite topics, on our way out to the car. (By the way, she continued to read this book all the way home, and during our picnic lunch in the backyard, finishing the 127 page book in just a couple hours.)

And here's another program we love: Elf Club. Elf stands for Early Literacy for Families. It's a grant-funded program designed to promote early literacy activities and model for parents how to engage their children with books. Once a month, on a Friday morning, we go over to the literacy center for more fun: books, songs, a craft, a snack, and a free hardback book based on the month's theme.

Here's Harper helping to tidy up so we can begin the story.
Here she is raising her hand to answer a question. That week, the reader asked the class (probably intending for the question to be rhetorical) if anyone knew what a buttercup was. Harper said, "Yes-- a flower!" much to the crowd's surprise. That's my smartie!
We loved this month's book choice-- a rhyming book about a much beloved topic.

The craft always connects with the book. Here's Jack gluing his kitten together before coloring it.
And here is what Harper looks like basically the whole time we're there.

My kids feel at home in this special place and I am so grateful that during my years at home with my young children, we have a weekly routine of going here. We have arranged our kids' preschool hours to avoid library programs-- leaving Wednesdays and Fridays free for the library. It's important for us to be there. And why wouldn't it be? We read books, sing songs, play, color, learn rhymes, hug buddies, and smile a lot at our library. And we take some of that home with us for the remainder of the week as well.

Thank you, library!


Grandma said...

i still cherish the photo of aunt danielle and friend josh swift at children's story hour about 30 years ago, and cherish the time we now spend together at the library each wednesday morning. i never cease to be amazed by how my harper absorbs information and books, and how my jack knows each story by the end of the week. she sits and reads at any given moment and he brings me books and says "read it" - just what harper said before she started reading herself (at about 2 1/2!!)
we love the library, and the weekly visits have gotten me to be a constant reader again too.

The Tylers said...

I love this! We go on Saturdays after dance for our Mommy Daughter day and we love it! We love Valerie! What an amazing person! I am hoping to someday soon get the guts to bring Joshua and join you. I love you and your kids, always inspiring me to try new things

Mary Katie said...

Yeah for Visalia--way to create an incredible place for kids to thrive!

callie Roadcap-Uleners said...

jack's smile kills me! his smile makes me smile!

i can't wait to see it for myself!

Editor said...

this is the best thing i have seen in months. im gonna be checking in from time to time with you guys! thanks for sharing . . .

Anonymous said...

Beautiful entry, thanks for sharing the pics and capturing the days we actually made it to story time! :)

Danielle said...

You make pretty babies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!