I arrived one recent Saturday morning to find the remnants of her Friday night Read-a-thon-Sleepover... children in their jammies who'd stayed up all night to read a designated number of pages in exchange for some pledges, the better to help purchase more books for the Children's Room.
Beth Reynolds, NPL's amazing children's librarian, had been up all night with them, literate little maniacs that they are, steaming through a hot release, Brinsingr, by Christopher Paolini (no, that title isn't misspelled, but it sure looks funny). It's one of those huge hardcovers that looks as if it's for the big kids, but there they were, some of them close to polishing it off in a night. Her sidekick and assistant Peggy Ramel was right there with her, cheering the children on, helping to serve the treats, vacuuming the room once everybody had gone home.
This morning as I tapped away at my paperwork, I could hear Beth with much younger children (infants to 3 years) singing away at Wordplay, her weekly story time for them. I couldn't stop thinking about how very fortunate they were, and how lucky the rest of us are, for her ability to bring children together of all ages to create communities of young readers who can share the excitement of good books with one another.
A nanny who was new to the area came in to inquire about our story times today. "Are they structured?" she asked. Apparently she'd been to another library where all the kids did was to color.
I thought of Beth's storytimes, which are rich in oral language--songs, poems, finger plays. Good picture books read aloud with interpretation and enthusiasm. Friday's Lunch at the Library, for slightly older children (ages 3-6), a time of stories and crafts, each activity as lovingly prepared as a lesson plan, only without the pop quiz.
I nearly forgot the Friday afternoon group, Knit Happens (used to be Chicks with Sticks), a merry band of girls and women from the community turning out comfort dolls for children in Darfur, warm hats for kids in Afghanistan, and now tiny clothes for premature babies for the March of Dimes. Beth doesn't miss a trick.
NPL is blessed indeed to have this talented young woman, all hard work and inspiration, showing our community's children just how exciting a good book and good effort can be.