Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Storytime part 1

The day before the first ever bilingual storytime at the Wazemmes library, I walked in and was warmly greeted by one of the head librarians. "You're the woman who's doing the lecture tomorrow, right? We've been trying to get in touch with you..." *roll forboding music*

Emilie, the children's librarian who was supposed to be my French counterpart at storytime, was out with her sick daughter and they weren't sure if she'd be back for storytime. Elise, the head librarian, asked if I still wanted to do it. I instantly answered of course! without really testing the waters. She seemed pleased that I didn't back out because she said she was scared that if we cancelled the first one, then it would jeopardize the next one. The reason they asked if they should cancel is because they didn't have anyone signed up. I told them that, oops, it was my fault because I had at least 5 kids coming and I'd sent an email out to Suzanne's entire school through the PTA.

Admittedly, I started to get a little nervous because of so many unknowns...but hey, little kids aren't scary, right? Haha...

So just before storytime, my friend M and I brought the kids to the park and let them burn off energy (ie I was scared Max would be a terror and needed him to get the crazy out before being confined for 30 minutes).

At 3:20, I showed up to the library with my brood of 4 bilingual kids and my English Mum friend and was pleased to see some other anglo friends waiting for us. Elise introduced me to a man who is the librarian in charge of going into schools in Lille. They asked if it was ok to sit and watch. They also informed me that I was on my own. The storytime room was packed with about a dozen kids, pretty much equally split between bilinguals and Frenchies (and their parents of course).

We began with a welcome song my mother had taught both me and Suzanne. Then I took out my personal English language copies of the books we had planned on reading. I started with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which I read slowly but not too slowly including many pregnant pauses and hand gestures hoping the kids would fill in the blanks. Two and a half year old Albert chimed in which was great.

When I finished, Max began screaming "encore encore" (and trust me, Max screams) as he handed me Brown Bear, Brown Bear, which I told him to read by himself. I moved onto Little Blue and Little Yellow, followed by Brown Bear upon Max's requested, was briefly interupted by Suzanne who came to tell me her friends asked if I could read in French because they didn't understand English, and then a little boy from Suzanne's class who called out that English was nul and finished with Where the Wildthings Are before wrapping it all up with a round of "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes". All the kids got a coloring page of Eric Carle's caterpillar (which probably ended up in the garbage since I'm not sure what my conscientious, art loving daughter did with hers!).

The reading was animated by Max pushing his copy of Brown Bear upon anyone who seemed remotely interested and finishing off each story with a hearty round of "Mommy, encore".

I THINK it went well. I got positive feedback from my friends as well as from the non-English speakers there. When I asked one friend how it compared to the british cultural center, his reply was that it was more or less the same but they were "professional" which I'm not sure how to take. Elise seemed pleased and said she thought the bilingual format would work really well, since the kids hung on in English for the first couple books. With some French mixed in, it would keep them hanging on.

The next storytime is on Wednesday, April 13th at 3:30 PM. Be there or be square.


Mil said...

I think you were right to mix in some French and hand gestures. Since I heard about your idea I've been mentally wondering if I could pull it off in my town one day. We take for granted that our own kids understand so much but for children who've had little exposure to English it can be daunting. Sounds very well organized to me though!

Anonymous said...

Well done you!
I think by "professional" your friend may have meant "you have to pay for it."
Hoping to see you on the 13th!

Sarah said...

Encore, encore!

So glad to hear it was a success and that you did just fine without the librarian!

And great attendance too, especially considering that it was the very first session and you weren't really "allowed" to publicize it much.

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