Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Slow start for library’s bilingual storytime

Evanston Public Library administrators think they have a good thing in their bilingual storytime and craft program, but they wish more families would attend.

Attendance was low at last Friday’s program, which took place at the library’s South Branch, 949 Chicago Ave., and the program’s organizers said reaching more families was a top priority.

“We are really trying to target populations that would be most interested in this program,” said Sally Schwarzlose, South Branch director.

Bilingual fliers for the program have been sent to City Outreach workers, Even Start reading advocates and Family Focus, Schwarzlose said. Fliers also have been sent home with children from Washington Elementary School.

The library has offered bilingual storytimes in the past, usually with large groups that set up special visits.

The new program is the library’s first effort to set up a monthly bilingual storytime for families.

During each session, young children listen to stories in English and Spanish and make art projects together.

“We’re trying the bilingual storytime to get more parents and kids to use the library,” said Henry Garcia, South Branch assistant director.

Garcia said the scheduled time of the program, 2 p.m., is problematic.

“There aren’t a lot of people because parents say it’s nap time. But because of the budget, I can’t come in any earlier,” Garcia said.

Only two children attended the library’s Sept. 8 program, while four children were present on Friday.

The small numbers aren’t necessarily undesirable.

“It is nice to have a smaller group, otherwise my girls wouldn’t be as interested in participating,” said Ruth Thompson, an Evanston resident.

Her 7-year-old daughter, Rebecca, gave the program a thumbs-up.

“Yeah, I like storytime,” she said.

Schwarzlose and Garcia sang songs and read Halloween books with the children. Each page was read in Spanish by Garcia and then in English by Schwarzlose.

Rounding out the Halloween theme was craft time, when the children decorated orange paper pumpkins.

“We generally try to structure the program around the age that shows up. We adjust accordingly,” Garcia said.

Garcia and Schwarzlose see the bilingual nature of the program extending beyond the library.

“It is especially important for the Spanish speakers to get exposed to English before they start school and then the English speakers get to hear some Spanish,” Garcia said.

“We are hoping to be a bridge to welcome all the families,” Schwarzlose added.

Bilingual storytime next will be held at the library Nov. 10 at 2 p.m.

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Slow start for library’s bilingual storytime