HUNSBERGER: Libraries get to tell our story

Children love Storytime.  Adventures with “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” “The Berenstain Bears,” and “Fancy Nancy” are a highlight of any reading journey. These literary excursions may occur at home, snuggled warm and cozy with Mom and Dad, or perhaps even at your local library.  Through reading books and listening to stories, children experience new emotions, places and things.  This allows the brain to make meaningful connections with said experiences, thus allowing the child to explore new adventures in a safe and secure environment.  So the question is, why does Storytime have to stop at childhood?  Should it be socially acceptable to experience Storytime as a teen or adult? 

The answer is clear…absolutely!  Experiencing new emotions, places and things does not stop when you reach adulthood.  The structure and content will change, but the ideals will stay the same.  In childhood storytimes, these principles include listening, following directions and making connections with the characters in the story, as well as developing peer to peer relationships.  Teens and adults, probably more than children, need a safe haven to express and experience emotions, make connections with their peers, and refine and develop basic living skills.  Teens and adults are also needing to learn and develop these fundamental standards in order to thrive into mature adults. 

Where is the perfect place for an activity such as this?  Your friendly local library.  Any library’s mission statement will include some version of community centered services.  Youth librarians are charged with providing materials and programming to encourage basic literacy skills, building the social and emotional intelligences of children and teens through read-alouds and book clubs, and celebrating reading achievement through summer reading and 1000 book challenges.  Adult services librarians are tasked with looking beyond traditional library services to make meaningful connections outside the building.  Services may include financial literacy classes, social work services and technology amenities.  All librarians are tasked with creating a safe haven space for the members of our community.   All of the concepts combined are what make a library the perfect place for a Storytime for each and every patron they serve. 

All members of the community are welcome in the library.  These patrons include the homeless woman looking for a warm place on a freezing day, the single mother seeking the advice of a social worker, and the mentally disabled adult groups looking to volunteer and learn basic living skills.   Everyone has a story.  Your friendly local library is the best place for a meaningful Storytime.  Won’t you join us and share yours?   

Tara Hunsberger is  the youth services team leader at the Niles District

Library.