For every time I want to rip out my hair and curse the day I signed up for library school, I have days like today, when I am reminded why I am so privileged to do what I do.
At 10:30am, I began the first of a weekly series of programs called “Stories in the Park.” It was the first outdoor program I’ve done at my new branch, and I was a tad nervous about turnout. I was worried that I’d either get no one- or 500 people. The program is intended for mostly babies and toddlers, although I welcome pre-school and kindergartners as well. I think, in total, I got about 60 kids (and another 50 or 60 grownups). For the setting, it was a nice number.
I started off the way I start my baby and toddler programs- by blowing bubbles. (While one small bottle and wand work well in the library programming room, I’m thinking about investing in one of those bubble guns for my next outdoor program.) Then I did my usual mix of traditional kid songs (Wheels on the Bus, BINGO the Dog, Itsy Bitsy Spider, etc.) and three picture books: This Little Chick by John Lawrence, Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett, and Old Mother Hubbard by Jane Cabrera.
[Just a sidenote: This was my first time using Monkey and Me and it is an AMAZING read-aloud for toddlers. The text naturally falls into a great rhythm that can be chanted/sung. Like Gravett’s Orange Pear Apple Bear, it is brilliant in its simplicity. Go! Get it now!]
At the end of the program I tried something new- a “forgetful” version of I’m a Little Teapot. I stole this idea right out of Judy Freeman’s Once Upon a Time:Using Storytelling, Creative Drama, and Reader’s Theatre with Children in Grades PreK-6. I never anticipated I’d have the kids and the grownups in hysterics. I like to think I’m a riot and while I often crack myself up, but I’m pretty sure the Parks Department is spiking those public water fountains. Yowzah.
Anyhoo, I decided I may as well bring along some Summer Reading sign-up forms and some free book giveaways. Man oh man. Moms and nannies were practically ready to throw down to get to those free books. Thankfully I had a very helpful volunteer (a retired teacher) to help me wrangle the crowd. It was well-worth the momentary craziness to get over 50 kids signed up as certified Summer Readers.
The crowd was a nice mix of my regular patrons who attend my school-year library programs and completely new faces. A few of the moms/caregivers didn’t even know there was a library just up the block.
I got to spend my morning outside, meeting new people, singing silly songs, reading books, dancing like a fool in public, and introducing parents and kids to the library. I have to admit- it’s a pretty sweet gig. 🙂