viii Introduction Here we are at storytime, at storytime today. We’ll read books and sing songs We’ll have fun and get along. Here we are at storytime, at storytime, HOORAY! (arms up and shout) The story reader gives an introduction to the theme, followed by the story song/rhyme to get everyone ready to listen. Tune: Skip to My Lou Time to sit at storytime (clap along) Time to listen at storytime (hands around ears) Time to look at storytime (hands around eyes) Time to be at storytime. (clap along) Then the first book is brought to life, and the fun begins. At the library there could be anywhere from 10 to 100 in the audience. At the preschool, perhaps fifteen to thirty. Each of the children has his or her own life experience, including disappointments, joys, fears, triumphs, losses, dreams, nightmares, changes, and traditions. One is hoping for a chance to share minute details of the fall that happened on the way into the library, leaving a small scrape on his knee and traces of tears on his cheeks. Another is still remembering how scary it was when she couldn’t find her mother in the lobby so she sits close to her, thumb in mouth. A third is anxious because he’s going to see his father after storytime and there are sometimes ugly words between his parents as he is passed from one to the other. At the preschool, a child is still hiccupping from the meltdown that occurred just before leaving the classroom, brought on by hunger or fatigue or sadness about Grams or, most likely, a bit of all three. Another child is simply afraid. Of everything. Of the boy sitting next to him. Of the big mouse on the flannel board. Of not being picked up at the end of the day and being all alone all night long. Another child is embarrassed because she just had a wet accident and she doesn’t want the teacher to find out because then she’d have to leave and everyone will know and she really wants to hear the story. And one child is wishing she could tell the teacher about that mean thing she saw happen. So many tiny hearts beating with challenges and wonderings. So many active minds filled with questions and uncertainties. So many little bodies eager for hugs or to be left alone. Amid all this diversity of emotions, story- time can be a haven, a time for discovery, an awakening of feelings, an acceptance of self. Stories can help a child navigate, prepare, verbalize, understand. The story reader can open not only the pages of a book but
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