It helps them be lovers of reading’ 

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Heather Allen, library aide and storytime instructor, encourages children to play with a felt mouse at the library’s weekly storytime hosted Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023. (Cayla Grace Murphy)

Library hosts weekly storytime 

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County Public Library offers a variety of programming aimed at readers of all interests. For those who aren’t quite old enough to be readers on their own, the library extends a sincere invitation to preschoolers and toddlers to join in every Tuesday morning at 10 for an engaging story hour with plenty of opportunity to captivate and participate. 

Said Heather Allen, library aide and storytime instructor, the program is an opportunity to familiarize young children with the concept of the library as well as teach invaluable soft skills like listening, sitting still, sharing and teamwork. By adding in educational elements typically seen in a preschool setting, Allen makes sure attendees are engaged and leave the library feeling positive. 

“One of the things I try to do with my storytimes is a lot of educational concepts. Depending on the stories, I try to involve something extra,” she explained, mentioning that musical and physical activity components are often included at the readings. Keeping a toddler or preschooler’s attention for longer than five minutes can be a challenge, but Allen has adapted her approach over the years through her experience of homeschooling and teaching in a public setting, allowing for a smooth flow and happy experience for all. 

“If I’m losing them, then I go ahead and move on,” she laughed, noting that several children have become “regulars” of weekly storytime, and the library always welcomes new faces. Allen suggested to those grown-ups who are considering attending, but might be apprehensive about how their children will behave, to give children a chance to check out their surroundings first. 

“Let them explore first, then they’re good to sit!” she laughed. If your toddler or preschooler is a busy-body, don’t worry – Allen provides plenty of opportunities to get all those wiggles and giggles out throughout the story hour. 

Kristina Mackbin, whose daughter Charlie is one of those aforementioned “regulars,” said while it can be intimidating starting new things for children, the library is intent on fostering a kind environment where kids feel welcome. 

“The people who volunteer to do this are super nice,” she observed. “We bring her (Charlie) up here almost every week! There’s always something fun. They normally do books and a craft, and this time we had sweet treats.” She pointed to Charlie nibbling away at a chocolate chip cookie. 

Allen said getting young children familiarized with books and other children their age is crucial to help nurture a love of reading, and of learning at large. “It helps them be lovers of reading. It helps them be lifelong patrons of the library, and having these early experiences with their families really helps them retain the love of reading,” she said. 

The next scheduled storytime hour is Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 10 a.m. at the Cullman County Public Library located at 200 Clark St. NE. To stay up to date on future programs hosted by the library, visit www.facebook.com/cullmancountypubliclibrarysystem or stop by the library to pick up a schedule. 

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