Surrounded by various picture books and stuffed animals, volunteer Mickey Wicz begins to read to a small gaggle of children.
Each Wednesday evening from 7–7:30 p.m., the San Mateo County Library (SMCL) hosts a Pajama Storytime. The San Carlos Library is one of the libraries that host this event.
Children are invited to attend in their pajamas and bring along a stuffed animal, and each child is allowed to choose one book they want Wicz to read. Wicz reads books that range from authors such as Bob Barner to Margaret Wise Brown to children typically under the age of 10.
Wicz said, “I usually read things that are fun and silly that attracts the attention of the kids and are well illustrated as well. They love the silliness of the stories.”
For Wicz, the event is a way to help expose younger children to different literary influences.
“I think promoting literacy is a must to create lifelong learning and curiosity,” Wicz said. “[The storytime] engages kids to try reading on their own, and it’s a precursor to the kids becoming a well-rounded reader.”
The sessions also allow for children to work on their attention spans.
*Val, who brings his two children to the event regularly, said, “It’s important for these children to focus on a subject for half an hour. At some point, it will be easier to excite [my son] through books and any other activities.”
Not only does the storytime help children increase their attention spans, but it can also make Language Arts easier down the road.
Wicz said, “It helps them to pay attention to detail in a story, plot design, and prediction, which are skills that kids need to learn as they’re advancing through the grades.”
Another side effect of the storytime is the bond forged through the love of reading.
“I love being present with the kids and enjoying their joy of listening. A lot of them keep coming back, and when I’m gone, they miss me,” Wicz said.
For many children, this love of reading fostered through storytimes can last well into high school.
Sophomore Rebecca Chan said, “I have great memories of reading with my parents and brothers when I was little. I remember being really excited to read both with them and by myself.”
Later on, as children begin to discover their own taste in books and novels, the experience that the storytimes bring can help them choose which books they want to read.
Wicz said, “Kids learn how to evaluate literature here. They learn what’s good, what’s lasting, and that’s what’s so important about these sessions.”
*Wished to keep their last name anonymous