by Amy McDermott
Amy McDermott is a FAO Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow. She splits her time here at Jumpstart as a Program Associate in the Boston Office and a Site Manager at Boston College. Amy is also a Jumpstart Alum and served at Boston College from 2010-2012.
I can still remember circling up for story time at the Watertown Public Library, just outside of Boston. Every Monday, my mom and I would head to the library where I would join fellow three- and four-year-olds in the colorful and cozy children’s reading room, anxious to hear what the book of the week was. Occasionally we would break out into arts & crafts activities, games, or sing songs that related to the new book, but the main focus was always on the story. Afterward, I would poke around through the small stacks of books, picking out unique stories to take home and read.
One of my favorites was A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams; a tender story about a family whose home is destroyed in a fire, but who continue to maintain hope and happiness while saving for a really comfortable chair. It was because of my first experiences at the library that I understood the power of storytelling and the joy of reading. In elementary school, I can still remember the sense of pride that came with my first library card and having the freedom to choose new stories and books to finally read on my own.
My first year as a Jumpstart Corps member, I found myself at the reading center one session with three- year-old Olivia and four-year-old Landon. Olivia instructed us to sit around as she chose Are You My Mother? to read to Landon and me. Olivia went through the whole story, pausing to show us the pictures and even licking her finger to turn the page, just as her Jumpstart friends did while reading to her. Though Olivia was not yet ‘reading’ each of the words on the page, she was so excited to tell a story to her friends.
It was because of my first experiences at the library that I understood the power of storytelling and the joy of reading.
Every session in Jumpstart we share the power of storytelling. Corps members and children share unique moments reading and talking about families with new babies, friends with fun adventures, scary storms, bad dreams, and even a frivolous hen that doesn’t follow her shopping list. It is through each of these conversations that we hope to instill a love of reading and storytelling that will last a lifetime.
Whether it is in the classroom, school, community, or right at home, libraries offer us the opportunity to hear endless stories and use our imaginations. With National Library Week coming up from the 12th-18th of this month, I encourage you to take time with a friend, neighbor, grandparent, or child to share the joy of storytelling by visiting your local library.