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Thursday, December 20, 2012

French Storytime at the Cleveland Park Library

A few weeks ago I took Zach to a French story time at the Cleveland Park library in D.C. I had been meaning to try this one in particular because, at 4pm on Thursdays, it fits very well with our schedule. Most of the story times I am aware of in D.C. and MD (Alliance Française, Takoma Park Library) are on either weekday mornings when Zach has preschool or Saturday mornings, and in our house we're lucky if we can get out by noon on weekends.

The storyteller, a woman from Madagascar named Ms. Jackie, was very energetic and friendly. She began by reading a Mercer Mayer book, Il y a un alligator sous mon lit, and then sang a French version of “If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands: Si vous avez de la joie au coeur, tape les mains (tire ton oreille, touche ta tete, sauté gres haut, et cetera) which was also great for keeping the kids energized.

This was followed by another two or three stories (I forget the titles, but there was one about exploring the jungle, another about a little mouse who was looking for friends), interspersed with active songs like Savez-vous planter les choux. She would tell a story, then sing a song, go back to a story, etc. ending with La Ferme de mon Voisin for which she used big animal puppets to make it even more fun for the kids. 

After story time was over they played the French version of Disney's Brothers Bear. I didn’t time it but we must have been there for at least 1 hour, and if we’d stayed for the movie it would have been at leas2 hours. I’m not sure if they do the movie every time, but regardless, the whole experience highly exceeded my expectations for story time!

I would have preferred a bit more chance for Zach to engage and interact during the readings– there was very little speaking solicited from the kids. However, to be fair, the audience consisted mostly of toddlers and even some babies so if this is the typical crowd I think the one-sidedness was probably appropriate.  It was not as engaging as a class like Language Stars. Then again, it was FREE!

Instead of watching the film, I looked at the French book collection at the library. It was quite substantial – it looked to be about the size of the Bethesda library – maybe six shelves? And I definitely saw titles I hadn't seen at Bethesda library, so it was a refreshing change. 

Last but not least, the library does not charge for overdue books!  Let me say that again for all the other delinquent people like me (please tell me I'm not the only one) who can't manage to return library books on time and rack up fees: THERE ARE NO LATE CHARGES FOR BOOKS AT THE CLEVELAND PARK LIBRARY!  Despite confirmation of this from two library staff members, please double check for yourself as I haven't actually tested this yet as we are still within the due date. And I really don't plan to let them expire, but it is a relief to know that if something comes up I won't be racking up high fees because I have 20 books out at a time!

For storytime, and for the books, we will definitely be back.