Response to storytimes leaves Tucson librarians in awe

This article was originally published in the Arizona Daily Star on December 18, 2016.

Playing my Part in Encouraging Future Generations of Book and Library Lovers

by Catherine (Cat) Strong, Nanini Library

Given that researchers contend a child’s brain attains 90% of its full development prior to reaching kindergarten, Library Storytimes are a gift of literacy and early learning.

Storytimes aren’t just about reading books, though. They’re about listening to stories and songs and participating in activities in a positive and fun environment that is engaging for kids and adults alike.

As a children’s librarian, my passion lies in encouraging adult involvement in their child’s development of literacy skills through bonding over sharing stories at Storytime.

It is an absolute privilege to watch adults and children bond, observe a child grow from a babe in arms to an active bundle of energy performing motions on their own, see a little one blossom from a shy observer into an enthusiastic participant, and listen as a child not only learns to talk but excitedly shares what they just learned at an activity.

It’s pure joy to listen to a group of children and adults belting out “The Wheels on the Bus” or making animal sounds and using their whole bodies to perform movements pictured in a story about zoo animals.

When children delight in hearing me read and reward me with applause at the end, I smile. It’s their way of telling me that Storytime has inspired them—the next generation who will love language, books, reading, learning, and the library as much as I do.

Sharing Powerful Themes of Self-Awareness at Rainbow Storytimes

by Toby Wehner, Joel D. Valdez Main Library

In The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water, a determined but misunderstood reptile embarks on a journey of self-discovery and realizes how amazingly unique he is. In The Cow Who Climbed a Tree, a curious bovine with skeptical sisters follows her own inquisitive and adventurous nature and uncovers incredible wonders.

Characters like these have won their place in our hearts at Pima County Public Library. They’ve charmed us with their whimsical and moving tales and we’ve been proud to feature them at Rainbow Storytimes, coordinated by the Library’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Services Committee.

At Rainbow Storytime, we welcome families of every kind to enjoy stories and activities centered on themes of self-awareness, embracing one's individuality and uniqueness, with family and community acceptance.

We give families who may not feel that they fit in a traditional storytime a safe space to nurture childhood literacy and inspire a lifelong love of reading.

Rainbow Storytime is about literacy, and unifying and strengthening our Southern Arizona LGBT community. The library is more than a repository of books!

As one of the few public libraries in the country to have an established LGBT Services Committee, we are committed to providing the best service we can to all Library users, regardless of age, race, or sexual orientation.

Yes, it’s about the books at Rainbow Storytime, but it’s also about coming together, marching to the beat of your own drummer, and letting your individuality shine.

¡Me encanta! I love it!

by Krystal Valenzuela, Valencia Library

I might be partial, I am a children’s librarian after all, but I think Storytimes are the best programs the Library has to offer.

What can beat reading, singing, dancing, playing, learning and crafting all in one? Ask me and I’ll tell you… absolutely nothing can beat it!

I love to watch the kids’ faces as they wonder what the week’s theme is, or when they curiously examine the books on display.

I love to hear the clapping and chattering of little babies and the infectious laughter of toddlers. They are bursting with excitement and I get to be there with them!

I love that we learn new English and Spanish vocabulary together during Bilingual Storytime. Using music is such a fun way to learn new words when you come from a different country.

Being a child of immigrant parents myself, I know firsthand what it’s like when your parent doesn’t attend events because of the language barrier. In Bilingual Storytime, I make sure everyone is included and participating. When parents tell me that their children play pretend Storytime at home or that their squirmy babies are now sitting through stories, I feel proud to have helped pave that path to a lifetime of learning.

I’m honored, every day, to have a little part in it.