Libraries are known as places of quiet reflection. People silently peruse the stacks of books, or at most speak in hushed tones in order to not disturb other patrons.
Then there’s the children’s library, where quiet is a relative term, particularly on Thursday and Friday mornings: Story Time.
Story Time isn’t just about stories. The half-hour event is broken up with games, songs and activities, all geared toward the preschool-age set.
But of course, the stories are the focus. Children’s Librarian Charlotte Glover said Story Time has been offered at the Ketchikan Public Library for more than 30 years. It’s fun for the kids and offers a break in routine for stay-at-home parents. But, Glover said, Story Time is valuable in other, more important ways.
“Studies have shown again and again that exposure to words, early literacy, of course, where there’s reading or storytelling, expands your vocabulary by thousands and thousands of words,” she said. “Children that are read to have much bigger vocabularies, and why we care about that is when they’re learning to read and those words are familiar, they read at a much faster, easier, better rate than children who are never read to. So we try to encourage reading.”
For Story Time, Glover chooses simple books with bright pictures. As she reads, she
encourages her young audience to participate, in hopes of keeping their attention.
Of course, preschoolers don’t have long attention spans, so in between books, Glover leads them in activities.
“Singing in particular and what we call finger plays, which are children’s rhymes, do a couple of things: They grow the brain by increasing rhythm patterns in the brain, but they also do grab children’s attention in a way that reading the book does not, and it sort of focuses them,” she said. “It’s a great way in between books to say, hey, let’s have a little fun, OK, we’ve got your attention now, now let’s read a story. You can do it. You can sit through this.”
Michelle Hall is new to town, and brought her two children, one still an infant, to Story Time for the first time recently. She said it’s a great activity for her 2-year-old daughter, Jillian, in particular.
“Just to get her out of the house, meet little friends,” Hall said. “Give her an activity to do. She’s too young to do swimming and other activities, so get her out and give her her little thing to do.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Christy Willett has been coming to Story Time for many years, starting with her own children. They’re all grown now, so she brings her grandchildren.
“I just like that there’s different stories every week, and they do different finger plays and little dances and activities, and he enjoys just being with other kids,” she said of her grandson, Mason.
In addition to the public story times, Glover said the library has started working with Ketchikan Head Start to provide events for those preschool students. The library’s new location now is within easy walking distance of Head Start.
The Ketchikan Public Library opened Jan. 2nd. The grand opening celebration is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.