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 The storytime sessions at Bloomfield Township Public Library typically sell out, according to the Youth Services Department.

The storytime sessions at Bloomfield Township Public Library typically sell out, according to the Youth Services Department.

Photo provided Tera Moon, Bloomfield Township Public Library

There’s a ‘Once upon a time’ for every child at local libraries

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 26, 2019

BIRMINGHAM — The data makes sense: Children who are read to as infants, toddlers and young students have significantly larger vocabularies than kids whose parents didn’t read to them, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

That also means children raised in homes where caregivers read aloud are much less likely to fall behind in school or drop out of school, and they’re more likely to enjoy reading and learning in general. Ultimately, that higher reading achievement translates to better earning outcomes as adults.

Yes, reading is really that important. Yet somehow, less than half of children in the United States are read aloud to with any regularity.

That just won’t cut it for the staff at the Baldwin Public Library, which serves Birmingham, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms and Bloomfield Hills residents. They’ve worked hard to develop a variety of story time sessions that cater to the development of language skills at various ges. The themes and stories, combined with movement activities, singing and imagery, keep kids engaged time and time again, library officials said.

“Everything we do in story time helps children in one way or another. Plus, it’s a great way forchildren to learn through play,” said Stephanie Klimmek, the head of youth services at the library.

The Bloomfield Township Public Library has its own offerings for kiddos. The most recent storytime series ended this week, but another round of weekly story sessions kicks off again in April. Tinker Tales, for independent children — that’s without an adult — between 3 and 5 years old, Movers and Shakers for little ones 2-3 years old with an adult, and the Mother Goose Club are among the choices.

The Baldwin Public Library offers different storytimes for different age groups and needs, starting with babies and children up to 18 months, little ones to 2 1/2 years old, and a school readiness storytime called Just Me for 3 1/2- to 5-year-olds. They also host multiage storytimes, like Bedtime Tales, Family Story Times at the Birmingham Museum and Sensory Story Time.

“All of our storytimes follow the five practices of early literacy as laid out by the Every Child Ready to Read program,” Klimmek said in an email. “The five pillars of early literacy are reading, writing, singing, playing and talking. Each story incorporates those elements at an age-appropriate level. Babytime, for example, is for birth to 18 months. We sing songs, repeat rhymes, play peek-a-boo with scarves, read books, blow bubbles and much more. The complexity of the rhymes, songs and books increases as children grow.”

She said that sessions for older children advance to story-related crafts and even fine motor skill development, like gripping crayons.

The goal is the same over at the township library, where Youth Services Department Head Marian Rafal says the storytime events are very popular and fill up quickly, so registration is a must.

“All our storytimes for young people reinforce the five early literacy skills: read, write, sing, talk and play. Books, music, media and sensory exploration are all incorporated into each program,” Rafal said in an email. “Usually, there is a specific theme with all of the storytimes. This week, (they were all) focused on dragons, unicorns and other imaginary beings.”

The township library has unique sessions for skill development too, like the Tablet Tales monthly digital story time series for 3- to 5-year-olds, where guests learn to use technology and apps to tell stories, learn songs, encourage movement and stay safe online. That series begins March 16, and registration has already begun on the library’s website.

Also at the township library is the SENSEational storytime, offered monthly for differently abled children between 3 and 10 years old, geared at making storytime fun and educational for children with developmental delays or placement on the autism spectrum. Siblings are welcome in that large-group event, which takes place again March 9.

And to keep the fun going at home, librarians at the Baldwin Public Library pass out song and rhyme sheets for guests to take with them.

“You don’t have to use the exact books, songs and rhymes from storytime to get the same benefits storytimes provide,” Caroline Salucci, a youth librarian at the Baldwin Public Library, said in a press release.

She suggests that parents let their child pick out books on topics of interest to them and then read them at home together.

“As you read, ask questions about things that are happening in the book to help your child learn thinking, reasoning and problem-solving skills. You can make every minute count by interacting and communicating in a positive way.”

Librarians can share their recommendations and make personalized suggestions from the collection of old favorites and new releases.

“I try to choose titles that allow children to participate by repeating phrases, joining in with a physical element or predicting what comes next,” said Cathy Gimby, a youth librarian at the Baldwin Public Library, in a press release.

Gimby cited examples like “Thank You, Omu!” by Oge Mora; “Josie’s Lost Tooth,” by Jennifer K. Mann; “Potato Pants,” by Laurie Keller; “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates,” by Ryan T. Higgins; and “The Day You Begin,” by Jacqueline Woodson.

The library’s spring schedule for storytimes begins Monday, March 4, and continues through Monday, June 20. There’s no cost to participate. For more information or to view a full schedule, visit

The Baldwin Public Library is located at 300 W. Merrill St. in downtown Birmingham.

The Bloomfield Township Public Library’s storytimes can be found under the Youth Programs tab in Services on the library’s website,

The Bloomfield Township Public Library is located at 1099 Lone Pine Road in Bloomfield Township.