Week after week, the younger children have gathered at the library and sung along with songs about "Five Little Monkey's Teasing Mr. Crocodile" and "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed," while McWhorter used hand puppets to illustrate. They always read different books, but the younger children can count on McWhorter passing out the monkeys and singing these songs. It's one of their favorite parts of story hour.
Angela East says her 4-year-old, Marita, really likes the puppets.
"I think what she likes is the routine. She loves knowing what to expect."
East says they look forward to their weekly visits, and seeing others interested in books motivates her own daughter.
"It's amazing how this has helped her want to sit down and read a book."
McWhorter, children's librarian since 2001, agrees that the children thrive on routine.
"If I don't do the good morning song, they'll come up and tell me," she says. McWhorter sprinkles in a good mix of stories to keep the story hour fresh.
Program resumes Aug. 24
Story hour resumes Aug. 24, but on the last week of the summer reading program, she had the toddlers hopping about as she read "Shake the Sillies Out."
McWhorter, who was a children's librarian in Boone County and in Siddell, La., before returning to the local library, says the 250 children who signed up for the summer reading program are about average. However, she thinks the schools' focuses on reading have kept the children checking out books.
"Even our non-fiction has gone out this summer," she says.
Most schools have reading quotas during the year, but some schools, such as Junction City Elementary School, allow students to count their summer reading as well.
"It brought in a lot of kids," says McWhorter, noting that Danville elementary schools allow students to come there and test on books they read on certain days.
As far as what the children are reading, McWhorter says grades 1 and 2 like the Magic Tree House and Junie B. Jones series. A series on the Boxcar Children and Lemony Snicket's "Series of Unfortunate Events" are popular with grades 3 and 4. This series is about orphaned children and tragic events that occur.
"If you stop and think about it, they're kind of depressing but kids love it," McWhorter says.
Even if they're just being read to, the younger children know what books they like. Leasa Spicer's 2-year-old, Zachary, likes a series of books about big machines, especially tractors.
"You wouldn't think at 2, but he absolutely loves them."
Michelle Watson says her 2-year-old, Morgan, never tires of "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom."
"We have that one about memorized," she says.
Camille Uhrig's son, Reese, 4, likes Thomas the Train books. Her daughter, Ava, 5 1/2, likes all stories. They both like the craft projects that are part of each story hour.
"I'm impressed by the expense that the library has put out with crafts," Uhrig says.
There are special guests, too
In addition to reading, the story hour has hosted some special guests.
Children learned how to make origami from some Japanese visitors. Ronald McDonald's appearance is forever cemented into 2-year-old Elizabeth Robertson's mind as part of the library staff.
"She looks for him every time we come," says her mother, Jill.
In addition to what the library does to make the time special, Melissa Grubbs throws in a couple of treats when she brings Rollins, 11, Natalie, 3, and Eleanor, 18 months. She tows her two youngest to the event. "We're year-round with Miss Libby. We walk up and get a doughnut and ride in the wagon," says Grubbs.
Whether they come by wagon, car or the bus load, McWhorter is glad to sit down and read a story.
"Every day is different. You don't get bored and you get to meet a lot of really neat kids," she says.