In May, we launched the Children’s Reading Hour in the Kiosko at Mariachi Plaza. Two enthusiastic and charismatic professional children’s librarians, Celia Avila and Alicia Rodriguez, volunteered to read to local children in both English and Spanish.
Celia Avila opened her first book and began, “Era un dia muy agradable y el mono Macario estaba de lo más tranquilo cuando…” She then summarizes in english,“So the little monkey ‘Macario’ is taking a nap and resting…” “Chof! Can you say Chof?” She asks the audience of children gathered around her. “Chof!” They respond in unison, echoing inside the kiosko of Mariachi Plaza. She continues,“Quien ha sido, quien me ha tirado la caca?” The crowd bursts into laughter.
The goal of the Children’s Reading Hour, or “Cuentos en el Kiosko,” is to get children excited about literature so they will become lifelong readers. The Reading Hour is interactive – children respond to the stories, sing, dance, and play. “I try to portray that reading is fun, that anybody can be a storyteller.” says Alicia Rodriguez, who is the Bilingual Outreach Librarian at the Junipero Serra Branch. “If they enjoy it they will read it. I wanted to reflect myself in them. For them to see that they could also do it. ” Our Reading Hour reflects the Latino culture of Boyle Heights, where most people speak English and Spanish. We want children to develop their bilingual skills because it will give them lifelong intellectual, cultural and professional benefits. With our Reading Hour, we seek to make a long-term positive impact on the educational development of Boyle Heights’ youth, while preserving the community’s culture and identity.
Following the success of our first Children’s Reading Hour, we have decided offer it monthly on the last Sunday of the month at 2pm. Our last Reading Hour on June 26 drew another enthusiastic group of children and parents, and we hope it continues to grow. The Reading Hour is geared to young children, ages 5 to 10. Snacks and drinks will be provided, and at the end of each session, children and parents can keep or borrow books from our lending library. Our next Children’s Reading is Sunday, July 31st at 2pm.