Park City Library offers story times in Spanish
September 2, 2016
The Park City Library is dedicated to developing and spreading the love of literacy.
To do that, the staff has developed many programs including Baby and Me, Toddler Time and Crafternoons.
Three months ago, the library’s Youth and Spanish Services Librarian Katrina Kmak and the Youth and Spanish Services Assistant Pablo Abarca began a family Spanish story time.
The free one-hour event is held on the first Sunday of the month in the library’s Story Time room at 3 p.m. The next session will be held on Sept. 4.
“The first half hour features songs, rhymes, and stories,” Kmak said during a joint Park Record interview with Abarca at the library. “Then we do a little craft afterwards that ties in with the books. That way, they can take something home to remind them of what they did.”
The program mirrors the library’s Toddler Time sessions, according to Abarca.
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“We don’t want to discourage anyone from attending, so the story times are open to all ages, however, the main ages that seem to be attracted to this are from 2 to 7,” he said.
The goal is to give Park City’s Hispanic children a leg up when it comes to literacy.
“We thought since 25 percent of Park City’s population is Hispanic that there was no reason why we shouldn’t accommodate offer this program and provide the same skill-building tools that we offer our English speaking population,” Kmak said.
“Getting kids to become literate at a young age is so important because it helps develop their brains,” he said. “When we teach them the alphabet before they start reading, they gain an idea and appreciation of what they are getting into as far as reading goes.”
Abarca is the one who leads the Spanish sessions.
“I read up to three books and try to get and learn as many traditional rhymes as I can,” he said. “I love the rhymes. Every language has a rhythm or cadence, and even I learn something from these rhymes.”
Abarca also makes sure he selects books that will fit the situation.
“I have to think about how long the story will take to read and I have to think about the attention span of the kids,” he said with a smile.
He also looks for books that have big images and pictures.
“I like big books because some kids will crawl up to see the pictures and those that don’t can still see the pictures from where they are in the back,” he said.
Abarca said a good book not only has a fun and interesting story, but also gives him opportunities to add some of tweaks of his own.
“I like to do some improvisation and act out parts of the story,” he said. “I’m learning from Katrina, who is part of an improv troupe in town.”
Kmak said kids learn more through interaction.
“You give kids the opportunity to ask questions about what will happen next or why a character is feeling the way it does,” she said. “That way you can really engage the kids in the story he’s telling.”
Still, Abarca doesn’t pick any book that looks fun.
“I have to look at the translations because there are a lot of books that are translated into long-form Spanish,” he said. “As much as I love the Mo Williams series, a lot of them are too long to use.”
While Abarca does like the books by Dr. Seuss, he would rather read books that teach traditional Spanish and Mexican folklore.
“That will help the little ones keep their culture, tongue and tradition,” he said. “I mean, I grew up with many different Latinos, and many of them had forgotten their tongue and/or don’t speak it that often. And when I saw that, it hurt, because they lost something.”
All the books Abarca selects are culled from the Park City Library’s collection.
“That way they can check them out if they want to,” he said. “I make sure I give the author and the title before every story time and share that with the parents.”
“In every collection at the Library, whether it’s children’s books, board books and Easy Readers, we have Spanish versions,” Kmak said. “We also have Spanish youth books, beginner chapter books and teen and adult books.”
Most of the Spanish books are in shelves next to the English books.
“The only separate Spanish section is in the adult books,” Abarca said. “They have their own separate spot.”
So far, the family Spanish story time has been a little slow to catch on, according to Kmak.
“Summer is such a crazy time for people, so this hasn’t gained a lot of traction,” she said. “We hope now since school has started and people’s schedules have calmed down that more people will be able to come.”
The only requirement for the family Spanish Story Time is that the children need to be accompanied by an adult.
“That includes caregivers, nannies and parents,” Kmak said. “The story time is not intended to be a drop-off service.”
That said, both Kmak and Abarca are open to suggestions as well.
“Since we’re still testing out the waters, we are looking for feedback of any kind, especially if there is a time that’s better than what we currently schedule,” Kmak said.
“We’re more than happy to make adjustments because we’re here for the community.”
The Park City Library, 1255 Park Ave., will present a family Spanish story time every first Sunday of the Month, starting Sept. 4, at 3 p.m. The free event will feature cuentos (stories), musica (music) and rimas (rhymes). For more information, visit http://www.parkcitylibrary.org.