Once upon a time there were little children who loved stories, loved being outdoors, and above all loved to play.
The happy ending to this story is that those kids are coming back, along with a dedicated Kenosha Public Library team ready to meet them in parks, playgrounds and even fire stations to share their love of books.
KPL kicks off the return to in-person outdoor storytimes Monday (June 7) and has a full, adventurous schedule set for summer.
“We hope that as we expand our summer storytimes to parks and spaces throughout the community we will be able to reconnect with our regular audience and engage families who may not have had the chance to experience the magic of storytime yet,” KPL Communications Specialist Brandi Cummings said.
Research shows that children should have 1,000 books read to them before they begin kindergarten. Our public library is certainly doing their part, with read-alouds for preschoolers, toddlers and babies set for opening day. The season begins with the first of their weekly storytimes: Toddler Storytime at Southwest Library Park, 7909 38th Ave., 9:30-10 a.m., Preschool Storytime on the Simmons Library Patio, 711 59th Pl., 10-10:30 a.m. and Baby Storytime at Southwest Library Park, 10:30-10:45 a.m.
The full schedule, which runs through August 14, is below.
“I’m super excited to be able to see all our special storytime families again in person. I think library staff might have actually missed in-person storytimes more than the folks who usually attended them,” said Tessa Fox-Pawlaczyk, Early Literacy Librarian.
“I’m really jazzed about the Park & Play Storytime because it meets families where they might already be on summer mornings, at the playgrounds or splash pads at Schulte and Roosevelt parks, or enjoying the incredible Dream Playground at Petzke Park. This summer storytime also gives people a chance to check out some of the library’s outreach vehicles that they might not normally be exposed to, which is especially awesome.”
A short and sweet feature of this summer’s schedule is the twice-weekly Baby Storytime, lasting a just-right 15 minutes. Fire Station 6 adjacent to the Northside Library hosts the event on Tuesday mornings, providing a unique activity for the littlest learners and their families.
Building an inclusive, welcoming community is part of KPL’s mission, with summer storytime variations offered to include as many families as possible.
An evening edition is offered with Preschool Storytime on the Simmons Library Patio, 711 59th Pl., 6-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
Bilingual Storytime is set for June 21, July 19 and August 16 from 9:30-10 a.m. at Columbus Park, 2003 54th Ave. The storytime in English and Spanish is for ages 3-7 and their parents or caregivers.
Park & Play Storytimes are offered Tuesday-Thursday mornings beginning June 15, designed to serve families with children in different age ranges and to connect with those visiting the playground. Families are encouraged to bring their own blanket or lawn chairs and meet “Miss Tessa” for an all-ages storytime, followed by some bubbles, music and other activities. The KPL Bookmobile or Book Truck will be on hand so patrons can check out materials using their library card.
Outdoor story times will be a new experience for many children, as these events return for the first time since Summer 2019. This will be new for some staff members as well, including Early Literacy Specialist Megan Nigh. As a child she attended KPL storytimes at the Northside Library, and now will be reading to children in that very same location on Thursday mornings this summer.
“It’s really an amazing feeling working in the same building that I grew up in,” Nigh said. “I am very excited for my first in-person storytimes here at KPL and to meet everyone in person. I’m hoping to read some of my very favorite books this summer. I like silly stories the best because I love to laugh and have fun.”
Newcomers and veterans alike expressed their happiness and relief about getting back to normal. The KPL staff persevered through virtual story times and activities for more than a year with the same enthusiasm for sharing their love of reading that they’ll bring to outdoor play spaces. Those efforts were recognized on the national level.
“Pivoting to virtual storytimes was an act of love for our staff who understood the importance of providing continued routine and comfort for our littlest community members during a time filled with big feelings and uncertainty,” Cummings said.
“For the last 13 months Youth and Family Services staff have performed storytimes from empty rooms, I have been so moved by their commitment to read, sing, and teach as if they still had 50 kids sitting at their feet.”
“Our team is so excited to make the switch from virtual to in-person for storytimes,” she said. “Bringing that level of energy, care, and determination week after week is a testament not only to their professional ability but their love for the kids and families throughout Kenosha.”
Kenosha Public Library Outdoor Storytimes
Weekly Storytimes (June 7 – August 14)
9:30-10 a.m. – Toddler Storytime at Southwest Library Park, 7909 38th Ave.
10-10:30 a.m. – Preschool Storytime on the Simmons Library Patio (711 59th Pl.)
10:30 a.m.-10:45 a.m. – Baby Storytime at Southwest Library Park
9:30-10 a.m. – Toddler Storytime at Fire Station 6, 2615 14th Pl.
10-10:30 a.m. – Preschool Storytime at Lincoln Park Flower Garden, 6900 18th Ave.
10:30 a.m.-10:45 a.m. – Baby Storytime at Fire Station 6
(*Fire Station 6 has no public parking available. Visitors should park at the Northside Library and join storytime across the street on the station’s lawn.)
6- 6:30 p.m. – Preschool Storytime on the Simmons Library Patio (711 59th Place)
10-10:30 a.m. – Preschool Storytime at Southwest Library Park
10-10:30 a.m. – Preschool Storytime at Fire Station 6*
10-10:30 a.m. – Preschool Storytime at Southwest Library Park
10:30-11 a.m. – Family Storytime at Southwest Library Park
Park & Play Storytimes – All ages (June 15 – August 12)
(Including KPL’s Bookmobile or Book Truck)
9:30-11 a.m. – Petzke Park/Dream Playground, 2820 14th Ave.
9:30-11 a.m. – Schulte Park, 4400 87th Pl.
9:30-11a.m. – Roosevelt Park, 6801 34th Ave.