SANTA ANA – “Sparkling jewels, pearl beads, all the things a pirate needs,” said Linda Hanks as she read a children’s pirate story to an audience of attentive children.
Twelve parents and 26 children sat around Hanks in the small story-time area of the Santa Ana Public Library as she began to read a chosen selection of children’s pirate books.
Story time began with the children singing “If You’re Happy and you Know It” as they clapped their hands and squealed with excitement. Ages ranged from 2 years to 8 and smiles came to all the children’s faces as they laughed and sang along. Hanks handed out stickers to children and soon enough story time began.
Hanks leads the pre-school story time at the library once a week, however the Wednesday story time is not the only one that the library holds. Other story times include Spanish story time, family story time, baby story time, and bilingual story time. The summer season is one of the reasons for the increase in the audience at story time and Hanks says that one of the most popular is Spanish story time. Every so often the library brings in special performers. Events such as a magician and mad scientist show are coming up.
This week, Hanks focused story time around pirates and with a table of four or five pirate stories, Hanks read a few to the children before their attentiveness began to fade away. Hanks called all the children to stand up for a stretch break and they began to sing their special stretch song, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”
Soon enough Hanks announced the children would be decorating a unique pirate flag with colorful stickers. Children squealed and squirmed as they were receiving their materials, ready to begin their masterpieces.
Behind the fun and the children’s smiles is a deeper reason for story time at the library. With story time comes a plethora of learning experiences for the children who come to listen. By reading books aloud, children’s vocabulary is expanding, they are increasing their socialization and listening skills, and they are given the chance to hear rhyming in the books that aids them with their pre-reading skills, Hanks said.
“They don’t realize they are receiving these skills because to them it is just fun,” said Hanks.
Not only does the library hold children’s story time, but it also organizes a summer reading program for older children and teens. The summer reading program is designed to help the older kids keep up with their reading skills in the summer.
“Teachers always see a loss in reading over the summer and this program helps them maintain those reading skills so they don’t fall behind when they return to school in the fall,” said Hanks.
For more information on story-time and reading programs, visit ci.santa-ana.ca.us/youth.
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