Ocean View resident and poet Joan Springer can’t say enough about the children’s programs at the South Coastal Library.
“I think the library’s trying to get children interested in reading at a very young age,” Springer commended.
The programs deserve recognition, she said. However, Springer suggested many local parents (and/or grandparents) aren’t even aware they exist.
That may be so, but according to children’s librarian Marina Johns, attendance has been on the increase ever since she came to work for South Coastal, six years ago.
“Big time,” she said. “I would say, when I started, we’d have on average five or six children per program.” Six years later, those numbers range from 20 to 25, she said – and that doesn’t take into account the fact that the library has added storytimes.
It all started with Wednesday mornings — a “lapsit” program for infants to toddlers, plus a preschooler storytime. South Coastal Library still runs those (at 10 and 10:30 a.m., respectively) — Johns said they’d added a Thursday storytime two years ago (for infants through first-graders, at 1 p.m.).
Now, due to popular demand, the library has added a Saturday storytime (infants through first-graders, 9:30 a.m.).
“We have a lot of young families moving to this area,” Johns noted. “And this is not just story hour anymore. We try to provide some music and crafts — try to make it a family function, where the parents are participating with their children.”
She said the library had also become a place where parents often came to meet other parents, network, maybe find play dates for their children.
And many of the parents stay past storytime, Johns added. She has assembled some “concept kits,” filled with books and toys in various themes, for some extra activities around the children’s room.
Springer will take a role next week, with a reading of her brief work “The Peppermint Elephant.” She wrote the poem; her grand-niece provided all of the illustrations.
“(Rhymed) poetry doesn’t seem to have a place in our culture right now,” Springer lamented. “But I think children are tickled by this kind of poetry, and the more they hear it, the more likely they are to express themselves with it, or take out books of poetry themselves.”
Springer planned to pass out some peppermint-themed goodies, to accompany her reading during “Preschool Time,” on Wednesday, Dec. 7 (at 10:30 a.m.).
The South Coastal Library is located on Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach. For more information, visit the Web site at www.southcoastal.lib.de.us or call (302) 539-5231.