The chatter, giggles and sometimes crying, of toddlers fills Casey Memorial Library for an hour every Friday as they sing, dance, listen to stories and participate in crafts.
“They love it,” said Reena Boyd, who has been bringing her 2-year-old daughter, Zinnia, to story time every week for the past six months. “Plus, it’s free, so you can’t complain about that.”
Jennifer Batson, library technician, has been holding story time at the library for about a year and picks a different theme each week.
“It could be anything, like trains or boats or dogs,” she said. “I just pick some books and songs and (crafts) that go along with it.”
Batson said she also tries to incorporate some math and word recognition during the weekly program geared toward preschool-aged children.
“I try to make it fun, but slide some educational stuff in there,” she said. “It’s a fun way to learn.”
Since Zinnia is not at day care, Boyd said story time is a great way for her daughter to socialize with other children while staying active through song and dance and learning to sit still while listening to stories.
“I see my daughter getting very advanced in everything by just coming here,” Boyd said. “You learn to listen when others are talking. It teaches you good manners and how to share. Also, the hands-on activities afterward is very, very good for kids at this age.”
Boyd encourages parents to bring their toddlers as a way to expose their children to a good, group environment — especially if they’re an only child.
She started bringing her neighbor’s son, Maxwell Thrash, 3, after he saw Zinnia come home from story time every week with crafts.
“He asked to come with me,” Boyd said. “He got very excited about it.”
In addition to programs for preschoolers, Mary Theiling, lead technician, said the library has everything from programs geared toward families to services beneficial to soldiers or their spouses.
From a soldier who wants to pick up some language tips before they are stationed overseas to someone who wants to know more about the country their spouse is deployed to, Theiling said the library provides access to a lot of information. The library offers access to more than 70,000 books and audio books for all ages, as well as CDs, DVDs, e-books, language materials, periodicals, newspapers, magazines with back issues up to two years, electronic databases, tax forms, microfilm reader, a copier and computers with Internet access.
For older students, Theiling said the quaint and colorful children’s room offers computers with educational software programmed as well as cozy areas to read.
“Children and teenagers need some place positive to go,” Theiling said. “Something to encourage them.”