By Katrina Margolis
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Storytimes are ubiquitous in libraries, but it rare to find a library storytime with a new twist. Creative Kids, held at the Westwood Public Library, is just that. Karen Cagan created the program, which is now in its third year, from scratch. In each session, kids in kindergarten and first grade read a story, act out that story, and then perform a craft. It is the theatrical aspect that sets this program apart from the rest.
“I minored at theater at Wheelock, so I thought it would be nice to do something related to that,” Cagan explained. “It’s great and the kids know the drill - it’s really funny. If a new child would come in, one of the girls who did it last year was like, ‘first, Ms. Karen reads a story and then we act it out and then we do a craft!’ I was like, ‘thank you!’” The class maximum is 15 kids, which is the perfect number for the activities Cagan does. “A lot of the stories that I pick lend themselves to creative dramatics in some way because they might have 12 parts or 15 parts, which makes it easy,” she said.
In addition to Cagan, a Westwood Senior, Lauren, helps out every week. “So I’ve been volunteering at the library for a few years,” she said. “I used to prep things like crafts but I didn’t actually teach the class. My friend’s mom is actually a librarian here. I taught the STEM program, and Karen started doing this class, and she brought me in. That’s how I started!”
The class focuses not only on reading, but on a variety of skills. “I type out a script and a narrator part - and I’m usually the narrator - and then they have to listen to my voice. I give them a script to take home, and so they learn to use the terminology script, et cetera. It’s theatrical but not over their heads,” she said. “Some of the kids are going have lines. Then we also do a choral reading and Lauren holds up the words and there are some that are reading, and some that are still learning, which is fine. We help them out with that.”
Up until now, the class has consisted of two five-week sessions, however after the new year, it will transition to six-week sessions. “A lot of it spreads through word of mouth. People say, ‘hey, I’m gonna go to this.’ I’ve been really lucky,” Cagan said. The program has been going strong for three years and will continue to for many more.