Why Storytime?

A library employee reads a picture book to a group of children during storytime.

The library environment might seem antithetical to a family with young children. Is there any place in the hallowed halls of literacy for the noisy, busy everyday existence of a caregiver with an excited toddler and a vocal baby?

As a matter of fact, there is.

Library storytimes have been a tradition since time immemorial, and often conjure up the same sort of images: a bespectacled librarian sitting in a chair and reading picture books, with quiet, perfectly-focused children sitting in a circle around her. But the current picture is a little different, and Mesa County Libraries hopes to offer something a little more in-line with the real world.

“Our storytime providers partner with caregivers and kids where they’re at,” says Cydney Clink, head of Central’s Programming department. With 24 years of experience as a storytime provider, she offers an insight into the significant role that the program plays for those who regularly attend.

“We’re intentional about our work. It’s not just 30 minutes of reading; we build in moving and singing. I would encourage any parent to give it (the program) a try.”

Early childhood development studies show strong support for singing, reading, talking, and playing as building blocks of future literacy. The fact of the matter is that no age is too early to get kids acclimated to books, and simply seeing others model reading behavior is a powerful influence on both learning to read and enjoyment of reading itself.

Beyond tangibles and test scores, there’s also a matter of socialization. Lockdown and the after effects of COVID mean that life for caregivers and kids alike is more isolated than ever, and storytime provides a crucial third space – one between work and home – for many of them to connect.

“You start to grow a relationship with families and build connection with them,” says Maria Herrera, a Youth Services Assistant in charge of the department’s Bilingual Storytime program. The program has created a valuable space not only for kids to build on their language skills and love of learning, but also for families to form community that they might not otherwise find in their daily lives.

The benefits of storytime span far beyond a twice-weekly half-hour at the library. Something storytime providers encourage families to remember is that ideally, every facet of the program is something caregivers can take home with them and replicate. Storytime providers aren’t teachers, but they can pass along some handy advice for bringing a fun learning environment into the home – or into wherever else kids and caregivers might be.

The library offers a variety of children’s storytime programs at multiple branches. Check out all of the library’s storytime offerings here, and stay up to date on all upcoming library programs with our full event calendar.

Posted in General, Kids, Programs/Classes.

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