What’s cuter than a roomful of puppies? A library full of children at the Friday Family Story Hour at the Hamlin Robinson School.
The youngsters gathered on a recent Friday afternoon to listen to me read “Bear Snores On,” a fanciful story about a slumbering bear and his animal friends. I had been chosen to read the illustrated story book by Karma Wilson as the first “guest reader” in a series of Friday story hours.
The school, a private school that successfully works with students with learning difficulties, initiated the free story hours as an outreach to neighborhood families. Invited to the hour are children and their caregivers from families around the neighborhood.
At the story-hour launch, the children sat in a circle around a colorful floor covering, eyes wide and eager to listen. I asked them to help me tell the story by supplying some of the sounds. What kind of a noise does a sleeping bear make? The children snored gleefully.
In Wilson’s story book, the bear sleeps blissfully while his animal friends gather for an impromptu party. More animals arrive while the great shaggy brown bear sleeps blissfully and – of course – snores on. More snores. And here a bear burp. And there a bear sneeze. The children perform like troopers, supplying all the bear’s snuffles, sneezes and hiccup-like burps.
That first story hour was an immense success – something for the neighborhood children to look forward to on Fridays. Guest readers will include other city leaders, as well as local notables and professionals. Organizers report that one upcoming story hour will feature New York Times best selling children’s book author, Keith Baker. Professionals like Baker will do the stories more justice, but none could do any better at bear snoring than those youngsters from that inaugural story hour.