Songs and stories in Chilmark
It begins with a welcome song. The Chilmark Youth Services Librarian, Kristin Maloney, strumming her guitar, names each child as they come into the large inviting multi-purpose room at the library: "Welcome, Owen," she sings out. "Welcome to the library. Owen has a dinosaur on his shirt."
It becomes a fun sing-along on Tuesdays, as the preschool class from Chilmark School joins the group. The mothers with babies sit on the outside of the ever-growing circle of children who make themselves comfortable on the mats and pillows that are provided.
Photos by Lynn Christoffers
Once seated, the stories begin. Ms. Maloney sees to it that all the children participate. They repeat passages set to music by Ms. Maloney, and it becomes a fun interactive happening.
"And the green grass grows all around," echoes though the room. There are graphic displays designed to further animate the activities, and the children watch, fascinated by the cutout paper tree limb as it changes when a bird's nest is added, and then when a paper bird comes to sit on a branch. It's all carried out to musical accompaniment: "The bird on the nest, the branch on a limb...."
Ms. Maloney describes the sessions as story songs, where repetition is employed as an important element for the children. The rhymed text becomes a song, then a dance, until everything and everyone becomes involved together. Often, Ms. Maloney will make up a tune to fit a story, reading the story first, and following it by enlisting the children in a sing-a-long. The children use shakers and drums to make music, an impromptu orchestra, mixing language, music, and dance.
The beat intensifies as all form a circle to do "The Hokey Pokey. "And the little ones turn themselves about, put their right feet in, their tummies, heads, chins, and shake themselves about.
"I'm in the mood for shaking, how about you?" Ms. Maloney calls out happily.
And as the session slows down to close for the day, and everyone returns to their seats on the floor, she once again names each of the preschoolers as, one by one, they leave the room to head into the library to pick out a favorite book.
Lynn Christoffers is a photographer and writer living in West Tisbury.
Songs and stories are held at The Chilmark Library Tuesdays and Saturdays, 10:30 am, year-round. 508-645-3737