Reading Aloud: Photos of Kids Reading at the Library
June 27, 2022
When I was a kid, my favorite bedtime story was a picture book called Fantastic Toys. I could only wish to play with the imagined gizmos and amusements in this captivating and beautifully illustrated book. The toys included sculptable bath foam that could be shaped into animals, lace-up winged boots with springs on the bottoms for jumping, an organ with puppets that popped out of the pipes as it was played, and more. Every time I asked my dad to read it to me, he’d sigh a little laugh, wondering, “We’ve read this a million times, don’t you want to read anything else?” But I was adamant. So every time, we’d read Fantastic Toys.
As the library's photographer, I spend time walking the spaces, looking for pictures to make, observing how people use the library. I often come across grown-ups reading to children. It immediately takes me back to my father reading The Phantom Tollbooth to me, then to my nights reading A Wrinkle in Time, which I loved because the main character and I shared a name. Something about being read to gave me the confidence to go on and read by myself. Or maybe it was the taste for stories and adventure and characters just like me. Or maybe all of those things.
Gudrun, one of our youth librarians for 17 years now, read out loud to her kids every day as they were growing up (though she was quick to mention that some nights, reading doesn’t work out, and your child will still be okay!). As she and her children read and made up their own stories, she’d remember her own family reading aloud to her. “My parents always did it….it brings back fuzzy warm memories.”
Dahlia, a patron, reads to her three children every day, saying “They’re way more engaged than if you put a show on.” She and five-year-old Clementine, two-year-old Junior, and one-year-old Merle, along with her husband Nathan, read a couple of books every time they come to the library, and they always take a lot more books home. Favorites are anything nature or outdoorsy. Clementine likes the pictures. She and Dahlia read while Merle and Junior play around the wooden shelves. I’m an only child, but it’s a scene that feels familiar to me. For Dahlia, if her children ever want to read a book, the answer is always yes.
Gudrun, who leads Book Babies each week, said her favorite part about reading out loud as a parent was “the closeness of it.” Both parties have to be engaged and focused on the story. As a librarian, her favorite part about storytimes and reading aloud are the giggles and laughs she gets from young patrons. She’s passionate about all of the resources the library offers, from the picture books to the board books for babies, the read-alongs, and the “cool nonfiction” books that encourage kids to find fun in reading beyond fictional stories. Plus, world language books for kids! Gudrun is excited about them all.
“Enjoy this time with your child, and make it fun for you,” she said. In that spirit, please enjoy these photos of young people reading with their grown-ups, or on their own. And whenever you’re looking for the next great book for you and your child, we can’t wait to help and see what you discover.