We Tried It!: Keiki Storytime at The Library
Songs, dancing, books and arts and crafts make this weekly excursion a favorite for this ‘ohana.
What: A children’s library storytime event
Who: A mom, her 6-year-old daughter, Anna, and 3-year-old son, Noah
Where: Salt Lake Honolulu Library
When: Thursday at 9:15 a.m.
If you’re a stay-at-home parent like me, wanting to expose your little preschooler to a class setting or just looking for a way to fill a morning with an activity, the library’s storytime is a lifesaver. It’s chill, no pressure and best of all, free! We’ve been going every chance we get since my daughter, Anna, turned 2. The weekly excursion is an awesome way to get the kids outside of the house for an hour—but it’s also my time to check out the books in the sci-fi and fantasy section!
After a long break during COVID-19, Salt Lake Honolulu library relaunched its storytime events earlier this year, and based on weekly crowds, it’s a huge hit with families. In fact it’s so popular, the library’s split the event into two sessions, one at 9:15 a.m. and another at 10:30 a.m.
The children’s librarian, Taryn Nako, prepares a new program every week with different themes, books and even a simple arts and crafts activity aimed for kids ages 2 to 5 years old. She says she looks for ideas online, peruses the library catalog and even looks into the best ways to transition from one book to the next. Past themes have targeted pirates, dinosaurs, bugs and more. The theme this week? Play!
We attend the earlier 9:15 a.m. program this week. Lately, the 10:30 a.m. sessions have been packed, so we’re happy to see a smaller crowd for the earlier one. The library provides colorful small cushions for children to sit on, and younger children and babies sit together with their parents, on the floor. My two kids sit closer to the middle, by themselves, and I snag a chair on the side.
Nako starts off with a song to greet all the kids and has them stand up and follow along with the movements. It’s OK if your kids don’t participate—they’re learning by watching! At this point, some moms are still walking around the children’s section with their newly walking toddlers, for whom sitting still is rarely an option. Next, Nako presents a board with felt shapes and the children have to guess which shape is hiding a felt mouse. Then she sings “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and—surprise!—a large black spider made out of pompoms and sparkly pipe cleaners appears and everyone gets to touch it.
The first book she reads is Playground Day by Jennifer Merz, and Nako has the children guess what kind of animal the main character is trying to be. Throughout the story, most of the children remain seated, but the fidgety ones (like my son Noah) stand up occasionally and Nako asks them kindly to sit back down. It’s a full room, so I’m impressed with how well the keiki listen to her.
She then acts out Moongame by Frank Asch, having already prepared cutout shapes of a bear, the moon, a tree and other animals. The premise of the story is that the bear plays hide-and-seek with the moon, which eventually hides behind a cloud. Nako tells the story from memory without using an actual book, but it’s there for you to borrow from the library, too. She then has the children count five kites on the board—made out of more felt shapes—and recites the simple rhyme “Five Little Kites” to introduce the concept of subtraction.
The last book is a simpler one, Blocks by Irene Dickson, and the children get to practice their colors and learn about sharing. At the end of the program, Nako has a slew of activities set up. She has the keiki pair up to sing and perform “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Then she passes out colored scarves and has the children pretend to wash; later, they roll the scarves into balls and see if they can throw them all the way up to the ceiling. Everyone’s playing and laughing; my kids especially love this game!
For the final act, she directs the kids to arts and crafts supplies on the shelf in empty videocassette tapes (great idea!). Inside are pieces of different colored pre-cut kite-shaped construction paper, one sheet of paper, a glue stick, three pieces of cotton, scissors and crayons. We glue the kites onto construction paper, along with cotton clouds. Anna does the project easily on her own, but Noah needs some help. Finally, they use the crayons to draw the kite strings and color the rest of the background. Afterward, we take time to peruse some books to take home.
- Don’t worry if your child’s not into it. Nako says don’t give up just because your child won’t sit still or participate. She says it usually takes more than one try.
- If children are particularly unhappy and crying because they’re having a bad day, she kindly asks that parents take them outside of the library or to another area in the children’s section to give them a chance to calm down and allow other keiki to enjoy the program.
- Libraries have different storytime events, so find one you like best!
- No food and drinks are allowed (although Nako says no one will bother you if you need to give the baby a bottle).
For more information on the different storytime’s at this and other libraries across the state, check out the Hawai‘i State Public Library’s event section of the website. librarieshawaii.org, @hsplshigov