The wheels on the bus aren’t the only things going round and round at the Richland Library these days.
In fact, the well-known children’s song is just one of many the library is using to promote movement through literacy as part of its new Movers and Shakers storytime program.
The program, launched in the fall, encourages children and their parents to grow their muscles and their brains through a series of interactive stories, songs and other literary activities.
“Language development isn’t just about listening to an adult reading to you,” said Leslie Tetreault, children’s room manager of the Richland Library Main on Assembly Street. “Music and reading introduce children to language and reading. The more we can concentrate on the whole body – large and small motor skills – the more it will help kids get ready to write.”
About 50 people turned out for last week’s gathering that featured several movement exercises mixed in with short story readings. Along with the Classic “Wheels on the Bus,” the monthly gatherings include such interactive stories as “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom” and “Going Down a Smooth Road.”
“We know that play is a crucial part of learning in childhood,” said Heather McCue, a children’s room librarian. “Whether they’re going on a bear hunt or shaking their sillies out, parents and children experience music, creative movement and shared play.”
The first Movers and Shakers storytime incorporated creative movement with classical music including selections from “The Nutcracker.”
Each of the roughly hour-long sessions ends with music that is more soothing and exercises designed to help participants wind down.
“We ask the children to breathe deeply and to stretch,” McCue said. “Each session we try to point out to parents that deep breathing is not only relaxing but it’s also a good tool in times of frustration.”
Chris Gillem of Columbia brought his 2-year-old daughter Kyla and his 10-month-old son Jacob to last week’s storytime.
“I can see how much it has helped her development,” Gillem said, adding the program reinforces the importance of reading and being active outside of revision. “It’s just a fun, friendly environment.”
The Movers and Shakers storytime is one of nearly 4,000 library programs that provide opportunities for people of various ages to come together to learn, read and exchange ideas.
“Using new approaches to traditional efforts like a Movers and Shakers storytime gets families active and allows the library to help them understand the importance of growing their muscles and their minds,” said library spokesperson Padgett Mozingo.
February’s Movers and Shakers storytime will feature Kyle Coleman, an African drummer who will bring the book “Old Mikamba Had a Farm” by Rachel Isadora to life while leading other activities.