My ENL client and her three-year-old child have few weekday opportunities to go out. The child’s sister is in PreK, so she has no one to play with during the day.

We’ve been going to the North Park Library story time and the contrast between the first and third visit was very gratifying to see. The wary toddler who previously clung to her mother now walked eagerly into the library and directly to the play area on her own. She sat down to play and didn’t stop for the next half hour. She and another girl built and rebuilt a block tower, clapping gleefully as they demolished it time and again.

This story hour is ideal because the reading of the story takes only about five minutes toward the end of the period. Clap-along songs fill most of the time, giving each of the children a chance to fill-in-the-blank with their name, or an animal sound, for example. It’s also relaxed enough that a child who wants to ignore the story can just play.

Not only was the mother very happy to see her daughter having such a good time and being so independent, but she also enjoyed the songs and learned new English phrases as they came up.

By Donna T., ENL Volunteer