Kindergartners get tour of library

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Chatfield Public Library Director Monica Erickson reads "AAARGH, SPIDERS!" to Chatfield kindergarten students during a tour of the library held last Friday morning.

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Students got to follow Library Director Monica Erickson around the library and learn where to find their favorite books, movies, CDs, books on CD and magazines.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy


So much for quiet in the library.

“Look at me, look at me! I’m in the bathtub, getting clean so that I’ll make a good pet,” read Chatfield Public Library Director Monica Erickson, perched on the window seat in the Chatfield library last Friday morning. Erickson was reading “AAAARGH! SPIDERS!” to a very involved set of kindergartners who had come to tour the library, some of them for the first time.

Encounter after encounter, the somewhat arachnophobic momma in the story vetoed the prospect of having a spider for a pet, even as the children gave good reasons why a spider would be a perfect critter to keep. Until…the end, when the spider spins a sparkly web that fascinates her enough to give her reluctant “OK” to her little ones. And until…they get home from walking the spider on a leash – “just like a proper pet” – to find that the spider has friends to introduce, all over the living room.


At the story’s end, Erickson asked her little visitors to point out the spider signs she’d put up in each section of the library, denoting what a little reader can find there.

“This book is a picture book, and you can find those here in this section,” she said. “It’s called a ‘picture book,’ but why?”

One of her listeners offered, “Because it’s not long.”

Erickson added, “Because it has pictures. There are picture books all around you. Now, this section is easy informational books – like this one about a dog trained as a police dog. Right now, that’s the light pink section. We also have magazines, but we haven’t seen so many of those checked out lately, so if you know some good magazines that you’d like us to find, let us know. We’ll try to get those. They go out for three weeks at a time, just like books.”

Erickson sought to educate her visitors on how to find the educational books, and she showed them the early reader books, which are just a hop and a skip away from the children’s section.

“We have books and CDs – ‘Star Wars’ is kind of a long one, so that’s a good one to pop the CD into the stereo and listen and follow along while you’re in the car, or if you’re at home and not feeling well,” she said. “Now we have the early reader books, the ones you start reading on your own, and down the row a little bit, you’ll find some harder informational books, like this one about some unlikely partners.”

The director held up the book “How to Clean a Hippopotamus” and told the young readers, “This book tells about how a crocodile has a bird that cleans its teeth for him. Then there are the chapter books, the ones that take a while longer to read. If you’re looking for something and you can’t find it, be sure to ask for it and we’ll try to get it.”

Erickson then held up a case with a picture of a boy on the front. “What’s this? It’s a whole book on CD, and if you’re going on a car ride, you can listen to the whole book on CD – you can listen to the whole story of ‘Wonder’ on these CDs.”

She reiterated, “Let’s say you want a book and we don’t have it – just come up to the desk and ask for it, and a few days later, you can get it. All these things are things you can borrow free with your library card…to check out these items, you need something. What is it?”

One spritely kindergartner spoke up, “A library card!”

Erickson questioned, “How much does it cost?”

The guessers gave it their best. “A dollar?”

The director replied, “Nothing. Zero. If you come in to get a library card, you get to pick out one of these cool little wallets with your first card. We’ve got cats, we’ve got Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles, we’ve got Spider-Man.”

She held up a plastic library bookbag and pointed out, “These bags are for books, and they have registration forms for a library card and information about our summer reading program – we have something going on here all the way through June and July, and it’s all free. And we’ve put in the library hours and contact information so your parents can bring you to the library to check out books.”

Erickson then discovered that when she told the eager readers that they could go see where some of the books are – meaning eventually – they took her literally and immediately, but they got to follow the leader around the stacks and quiz on where to find what kind of book they’d like to read.

A stop in the west half of the library found them gathered around the large wooden countertop. “This is the room where we have all the projects you can do if you come in the summer and want to work on something fun. This is also our reading room, so you have to be a little quiet in here – that’s why we hold the library programs downstairs,” Erickson said.

At the close of her somewhat loud introductory library tour, she had a unique chance to hold a drawing for t-shirts, courtesy of Thrivent Financial, which provided funding for busing all Chatfield Elementary kindergarten and first grade students down the hill to the library for their own special tours.

The Chatfield Public Library holds storytime for preschool and early elementary students each Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. – Erickson invited anyone with a passion for hearing a good book being read to stop in and have a seat in the children’s section.