Pajama Story Time? Bilingual Story Time? No problem for Elizabeth Corbett, Children’s Librarian at the Charles Santore branch of the Free Library in South Philadelphia. Elizabeth, who formerly worked at the Whitman and Queen Memorial branches, has been at the Santore Branch at 932 South 7th Street for about a year, and has continued a bustling tradition of great story times for babies, preschoolers, and families.
In this neighborhood where so many young families make their homes, Elizabeth started a series of bilingual story times, developed in partnership with the parents and grandparents of bilingual families with preschool children who are regular library patrons. So far, they’ve had two in Spanish and one in Mandarin, and she can't wait to do more. About her pajama story times, Elizabeth says, “While I was sometimes the only adult who came in pajamas, the atmosphere was very cozy, homey, and sometimes almost wistful... probably because of all those lullabies.”
Elizabeth and Santore’s Branch Head, Janet Puchino, are still basking in the glow of their recent renovations. The new children's room is big and bright and has one whole wall of windows that looks out on a garden courtyard and a giant wall-hanging of one of Charles Santore's (the son of the library’s namesake) illustrations from The Wizard of Oz – Dorothy and her companions falling under the sleep-inducing spell of the field of poppies.
Programming for preschool children at the Charles Santore Branch is as follows:
Tuesdays at 10:00 am Babies Love Books
Tuesday at 11:00 am Shake, Rattle, and Read (Ages 3-5)
Once a month at 6:30 pm Special Story Time (next one is Nov. 29!)
Click here for up-to-date information on story times and programs at the Charles Santore Branch.
And in case you needed some great recommendations for your little ones, here are Elizabeth’s picks for her three favorite books for preschool children and why she loves them:
1. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
“Because it's just so perfect in every way.”
2. Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont, pictures by Jennifer Plecas
“It’s an absolute pleasure to read, rolling off the tongue so naturally that I hardly have to look at the words anymore. The rhyming text is clever, original, and funny and it uses a rhyme clue to help children guess what animal the baby is dancing with under the flap. Beaumont uses down-on-the-farm words like “long johns” and “chow” and “tuckered out” that introduce new vocabulary in a very comfortable, familiar setting. There's great repetition that lends itself to acting out the lovingly scolding parents, which preschoolers love to do along with you. The illustrations are warm and exuberant and silly, full of little surprises and visual jokes (like mama with her mouth hanging open as she snoozes next to papa on the couch). I pull this book out again and again for story times because it’s so well crafted and effective for sharing with preschool children, and because it brings me joy every time.”
3. Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
“This is a brand new favorite. I have to admit that I fell for it even before I had seen it, just from reading the reviews. I am sort of a chicken fanatic, and the little red chicken in this book is irresistible to me. She and her father have these tall, jaunty red combs on their heads that look more like hot dogs than combs and remind me of fezzes. Papa is reading his daughter bedtime stories, and each time he gets to the point in the fairytale when the protagonist makes her fatal error, the little red chicken bursts into the pages of the storybook with a crucial warning and announces “The end!” I love the way the papa says, “Chicken,” with growing exasperation and exhaustion. The little chicken’s personality is wonderful, and expressed so fully in both words and pictures. She is passionate about stories, she adores her papa, and she’s an irrepressible activist. Brilliantly funny and touching, and a surefire hit with both preschoolers and the adults who love them.”