Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit a local homeless shelter and read to the children. Another children’s librarian and I, along with the librarian from our Outreach Services office who runs the program, read to a group of about 20 children, ranging in age from three to fourteen.
This was my visit time visiting a homeless shelter for a storytime and I was looking forward to meeting the kids. I was, however, a tad nervous about book selection. I knew the age range would be wide and I wanted to pick books that were both appropriate for the preschool set and yet not eye-roll inducing for the older kids.
My colleague and I took turns reading picture books and folk tales. Some of the titles I picked included Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski, The Squeaky Door retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, Little Rooster’s Diamond Button retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, and The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington.
Firstly- yes, I do love me some Margaret Read MacDonald. Secondly- no, I did not purposefully choose titles about poultry, but apparently I harbor a subconscious fondness for our fine feathered friends.
The kids were amazing. As in well-behaved, sharp, funny, and excited about books (!). I only had one hour with these children. I don’t know their background or history, but I imagine many of them have been through some tough times and have dealt with issues that most children their age never do. But I never once felt a negative vibe in that room. The kids were bursting with creativity, energy, laughter, and a solid sense of silliness- pretty much the perfect crowd for a read-aloud program.
I’m hoping to go back to this shelter again this summer- if I can schedule it. In the meantime, our Community Outreach Services office will be bringing other children’s librarians from my system each week to read to the kids as part of the Summer Reading program. At the end of the summer, a special performer (I believe it’s a ventriloquist) will put on a show. It’s outreach programs like this that remind me just how important libraries are and how much of an impact we can have on our communities. I can’t wait to go back.