Portable story time a hit with children


January 22, 2002|By Dana Klosner-Wehner | Dana Klosner-Wehner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SOMETIMES IT'S difficult for parents to pack up their kids and get out to the library for story time. Imagine the predicament of a home day care provider with as many as eight children to corral into the car. That's why the Howard County Library provides a visiting storyteller for licensed home child care providers.

Storyteller Sherryn Davis, who works out of the east Columbia branch, packs her bag of tricks and heads out to day care homes three days a week, loaded with books, puppets and tapes. Her portable story time is a high point in the children's day.

"The kids look out the window waiting for the `library lady' to arrive," said Stacy Thornton, a home day care provider in the village of Owen Brown. "They love her. They hug her when she leaves."

Thornton, like many day care providers, has a full house: eight children ranging in age from 18 months to 6 years.

"Some of the kids in my group aren't old enough to attend story time at the library," Thornton said. "This way they all get to enjoy it. Even the 18-month-old participates."

The program is not new. It began about 20 years ago. But the visiting storyteller has become increasingly popular, said Susan Morris, early-childhood specialist for the Howard County Public Library.

"These days, providers can be licensed for up to eight children, where it used to be six," Morris said. "Sometimes a provider can't fit all the kids into a car. Many parents don't agree to have their kids transported anymore, making it essentially impossible for a provider to bring their group to the library."

So the library goes to them.

"I like introducing the books to the kids and having them get excited about reading," Davis said.

But the benefits don't end when the "library lady" leaves. "She shows me different styles and variations as far as communicating with my kids," Thornton said.

With each visit, providers receive a collection of library materials and suggested follow-up activities to use with the children between visits.

"We want to promote a positive feeling about the library," Morris said. "We always tell the kids, `Hope to see you at the library.'"

All licensed Howard County family child care providers are eligible for the program. Priority is given to those who have not previously received the service and whose scheduling requests can be accommodated, Morris said. The service is free, but an orientation session at the library is required.

Information: Susan Morris, 410-313-7783.

A lesson in love

Thunder Hill Elementary School first-grade teacher Jessica Papania, 23, got more than an apple for the teacher four days before Christmas. While preparing for her class the last day before the winter break, Papania's boyfriend, Mike Morrissey, 23, dropped by the classroom to say hello. Then he dropped to one knee and proposed.

"I couldn't believe it," Papania said. "He did it right before the kids came in."

Papania said she ran to tell all the teachers. When the children arrived, fellow first-grade teacher Charlotte Riesett showed Papania's hand to one of the pupils and asked what was different about it. That gave the news away.

"They were asking if we were getting married that day," Papania said. "Later on, we had a holiday party. It wasn't long before all the parents knew. It was just great."

Like many women, Papania will never forget what she was wearing when she got engaged, but her attire was probably different from most.

"Since it was the week before Christmas, I was wearing fun clothes for the kids," Papania said. "So I was wearing a big ugly sweater with a big snowman, a bell necklace and `present' earrings that were blinking."

Morrissey, who is on break from Massachusetts Maritime Academy, said he tossed around a couple of ideas about when to pop the question but knew this was the right way to do it.

"She'll always be in the classroom," he said. "She'll always remember it."

The couple plans to marry in July.

Teen-agers abroad

The Columbia Association Sister Cities Program is accepting applications for its annual high school student exchange program to Columbia's sister cities in France and Spain.

Participating Howard County students spend about two weeks during the summer in Cergy-Pontoise, France, or Tres Cantos, Spain, living with the family of a local student of about the same age. After returning to the United States, students will be hosts to their counterparts for two weeks.

The application deadline is Friday. The cost is about $1,100.

Information: Zenoby Orsten, 410-715-3162 or sistercities@col umbiaassociation.com.

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