Library Rush Hour
Storytellers cause traffic tie-ups.
by Davi Napoleon
From the May, 2018 issue
Book lovers find it hard to park in the Malletts Creek library at times; there are longer checkout lines at the Westgate branch other times. The culprits? Toddlers.
When the Ann Arbor District Library hosts playgroups for those under twenty-four months and preschool story times, little ones and their families crowd libraries. Eight youth and adult librarians go from branch to branch leading sessions, sometimes in pairs. "Everyone approaches the storytelling as not only an art but a playful experience," says librarian Laura Raynor. "We see the joy on the children's faces."
Parents love these sessions, too, and some, new to the country, learn English with their children by participating. Crowds are often multicultural--at a recent session, they included an African American family, an Asian family, and a mother wearing a hijab. "We sprinkle folktales in," Raynor says, "so maybe a child or parent will see themselves represented."
The librarians sometimes read from books, but more often they tell stories from memory. "The story comes to life in a different way when you can look into the child's eyes and use your hands freely," says Raynor. "We do lots of singing and dancing and rhythmic chants within the stories." Sometimes, professional musicians join in.
"The story is always different and alive," adds Raynor. "Sometimes in the middle of a story, a three-year old might want to tell the story of her day. I say, 'Can you tell me after?'"
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