The Star-Herald

Adults enjoy special storytime at NMCC library

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Many people think of children when they hear the phrase “storytime.” But that wasn’t the case at Northern Maine Community College on March 6, as more than a dozen adults gathered at the campus library for a storytime event tailored just for them. 

In the early afternoon hours, the small group gathered in a semicircle of chairs around three experienced storytime readers: Heidi Broad-Smith, NMCC early childhood education instructor; Melissa St. Pierre, youth services librarian for the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle; and Laura Hale, educational services representative for Usborne Books & More.

One by one, the women took turns reading some of their favorite children’s books with an enthusiasm and warm spirit that had everyone in the room smiling and often laughing at the characters’ humorous antics.

Melissa St. Pierre, youth services librarian for the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library, reads “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” during NMCC’s special Storytime for Adults event on March 6 while fellow reader Heidi Broad-Smith, NMCC early childhood education instructor, looks on. (Melissa Lizotte)

Broad-Smith had a ball acting out the voices of characters from “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson, “The Wonky Donkey” by Craig Smith, and “I Say Ooh, You Say Aah” by John Kane. During the final story she convinced her adult audience to participate by saying, “Aah,” as well as other funny phrases, aloud throughout the story. She has participated in all three Storytime for Adults events that NMCC has held thus far and said she loves the chance to share the joy of reading aloud with people of all ages.

“I think anything that we can do to get people engaged in literacy is a good thing,” Broad-Smith said. “Every time I’ve read to adults, people always ask, ‘When are you going to do this again?’”

Storytime for Adults is a national trend that began in 2005 when librarian David Wright launched the “Thrilling Tales” events in which adults gathered at the Seattle Public Library to hear him read from fiction and nonfiction geared toward adult listeners. Gail Roy, assistant dean of learning resources at NMCC, said that she was inspired to start a similar yearly event at the college that focused on children’s literature.

“Everyone loves children’s books and has a favorite book that they remember being read to them,” Roy said. “This is a chance for them to come during their lunch break, sit back, relax and enjoy good stories.”

Throughout the hour, St. Pierre enjoyed sharing some of her favorite books to read to children, such as “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates,” by Ryan Higgins, “Nanette’s Baguette” by Mo Williams and “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” by William Joyce. Hale, with her 3 ½-year-old son Benjamin cradled on her lap, breezed through the stories, “Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster” by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt and “Nibbles the Book Monster” by Emma Yarlett.

Hale often reads for children at libraries and book fairs at local schools and said that reading for adults is always a unique experience for her.

“I love being able to share that love of reading with adults as well as children,” she said.

Storytime for Adults proved to be just as popular with the listeners as with the readers. Shari Ward, physics instructor at NMCC, said that the storytime was just the activity she needed to relax and reflect on her own memories of reading.

“It reminds me of when people read to me as a child and when I used to read to my own children,” Ward said. “I think for all of us it was very calming experience and a chance to reflect.”

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