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Kids take a storytime adventure

Combining books and crafts keeps children engaged and excited about reading

Posted: August 3, 2009 9:32 p.m.
Updated: August 4, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Three-year-old Andy Clark reads his favorite book, "The Magically Mysterious Adventures of Noelle the Bulldog," written by Gloria Estefan, during the Storytime Adventures program at the Santa Clarita Activities Center on Monday morning.

From "Star-Belly Sneetches" to "The Three Little Pigs," imaginations soar during "Storytime Adventures," the no-cost interactive program that encourages reading in Santa Clarita Valley youngsters.

Held on Mondays at the Santa Clarita Activities Center, the summer event has made a splash among local families.

"This is such a great way to do something fun with your kids and get them out of the heat for a while," said Janine Sathre, Valencia resident and mother of three.

"It's also an inexpensive summer activity to do as a family. My kids love it!"

The 45-minute storytelling session begins with an illustrated, well-known children's book, read aloud by a volunteer storyteller.

After the book is finished, the children join together to work on a craft that relates to what happened in the story that was read.

The program is in its first year and is hosted by the city of Santa Clarita as a way to provide a safe and educational activity for children ages 3 to 5.

Children and their families can sign up for the activity and attend it free of charge.

"In these tough economic times, it's important to find new, no-cost ways to bring families together in a safe and enjoyable environment," said Toi Chisom, city recreation superintendent.

"Reading is fundamental to a child's development and we are so pleased to offer this experience to local children and their parents."

The weekly adventures began July 13 and will run through Aug. 10, offering a different classic tale to be read aloud during each session by featured volunteer community members.

One volunteer knows the value of this kind of adventure.

"I wanted to volunteer to be a storyteller because I read to my son all of the time," said Christina Clark, city risk administrator, who enjoys reading to her 3-year-old son, Andy.

"Reading stories to kids gives them a chance to open up their imaginations."

Clark volunteered to read the children's book "The Magically Mysterious Adventures of Noelle The Bulldog" by Gloria Estefan.

One audience member was eager to hear the story.

"We brought this book with us from home, where we read it together about three times a week. It's Andy's favorite," Clark said as her son sat in the front row.

"I just love seeing the kids get all excited about these stories," said the program's creator, Dana Abel.

"I see families at the activities center every day and wanted to start thinking of a way we could bring them something educational, at no cost to them," Abel said.

"I also wanted to think of a way that they could do a comprehensive exercise after the story, so it would help them understand it better."

Comprehension through crafts was the idea.

"Last week we read Dr. Seuss and played the game ‘Pin the tail on the Sneetch.' In today's story, Noelle the bulldog had a lot of fish friends," Abel said.

"So we will have a craft that includes something that correlates to the fish in the story.'"

Each child had an opportunity to paint sun-catchers shaped like fish from the book.

"We are pairing story time with a fun, interactive activity," Abel said.

"The kids seem to have a really good time and it's great to see."

But no-cost or low-cost adventures at the center don't stop at storytime.

The center also offers free programs just for arts and crafts as well as the family activity of "Popcorn And A Movie" at the center.

"We hope that people take advantage of these great activities over the summer," said Judy Baker, city recreation supervisor.

"It's easy to sign up for, absolutely free of charge and really fun for the whole family."


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