Guilford story hour reaches across the miles

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GUILFORD — What do children in France, California and Guilford, Vermont have in common? They're all staying home these days, but thanks to the Guilford Free Library, they are also coming together. Every Tuesday from 11 to 11:30 a.m. the Zoombrary story hour is up and running to the delight of the children, their parents and especially their grandparents who are reaching out across town and across the miles to spend time with them.

Librarian Cathi Wilken, who has been with the library for 22 years, and Board of Trustees President Laura Lawson Tucker run the story hour from the library and home respectively. Singing, reading and yoga fill a very fast moving half hour. Lawson Tucker, who starts the program by reading stories aimed at the younger crowd — babies and toddlers — is helped by her stuffed animal friends Frederick and Patty. Wilken's books, which finish up the program, are aimed at an older group. The children are in all different situations: some are eating snacks; others are sitting with their parents; still others come and go on screen but everyone joins in whether it's singing or stretching into yoga poses.

"This is such a challenging time for all of us, but especially for children who miss their friends, for their parents who need to teach and entertain them, and their grandparents who are missing out on the hugs and kisses," said Lawson Tucker, who has been associated with the library for 35 years. "It's so nice for all of us to see our old friends who are used to coming to the library every week and a thrill to meet new ones who might never physically get to the library."

"I knew about the story hour at the library and always wished my granddaughter could be here for it," said Sue, a grandmother in Brattleboro. "Now I can watch her as if we're together. I enjoy seeing how deeply she listens. This is just fun for all of us, especially being with other people. It reminds me to play."

The story hour has been entertaining local children at the library for 34 years and a recent Zoom gathering attracted 22 participants. "We entertain with new and classic stories and songs but we also gently teach: about love, about the sun, moon and earth, and about what happens when a little girl falls asleep in a bear's bed after eating his breakfast," Wilken said.

Information on how to join will be posted on Front Porch Forum each week and is available by calling the library at 802-257-4602 or emailing staff@guilfordlibraryvt.org to request an invitation.

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