JOPLIN, Mo. —
Elias Fuchs, 3, had a good time at the library Tuesday, even with a bubble stuck on his head.
As a librarian blew bubbles around the large meeting room at Joplin Public Library, Fuchs and more than 20 other toddlers and young children made leaps and grabs at them, not seeing the small one clinging for life in his hair.
And the only reason he got a chance to chase bubbles and other activities is because of how the library split up a storytelling session.
"I can't bring just one of my kids," said his mother, Amanda Fuchs, of Joplin, who also brought her 13-month-old son. "I always have both with me."
The library used to host a program called Baby Bookworms intended for children up to 2 years old and their parents. But library staff noticed that it was hard for the toddlers and walkers to sit still.
So the library split it into two new programs. Though the classes are separated between infants and toddlers, the real dividing line is whether the child is mobile.
"Movers and Shakers is like a big dance party," said Jeana Gockley, children's librarian. "There's a lot of music and singing. Kids are up jumping and dancing, so they can get their energy out."
The first Movers and Shakers class was held Tuesday. More than 20 children and their parents attended.
The other story time is a program called Little Listeners. Intended for infants, the program lets parents and children share a story together. Copies of the book being read are handed out so that parents and lap-bound kids can get a close look at the characters and words.
"We feel like babies can't see the book being held," Gockley said. "If they can hold and manipulate the book with parents, that's a good thing."
Though the different sessions have a lot in common, the main commonality is the presence of parents, Gockley said. Stories are not the priority in these story times.
"We're trying to encourage parents to interact with children," Gockley said. "They are the ones that children are learning from on a daily basis. We can sing songs or read books, but a parent has a child all day."
Gockley said that by the time a child is 3 years old, 80 to 90 percent of the brain has formed. That means there is a high importance on children hearing language because that's how they will learn to speak themselves.
Storytellers go through six weeks of training for the program, Gockley said. The other crucial part of getting parents involved, Gockley said, is that it allows parents to meet other parents.
"When someone just had a baby and they are staying at home, they can feel isolated," Gockley said. "Just getting out is a big step."
Want to go?
The Joplin Public Library offers two Tuesday sessions for infants and toddlers:
- ¥ Little Listeners is at 9:30 a.m. It is intended for babies and infants who are not walking yet.
- ¥ Movers and Shakers is at 10:30 a.m. It is intended for toddlers and other children not yet eligible for pre-school.