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Storytime makes astronauts cool again

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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

Do kids still think astronauts are cool? With billionaire vanity space projects widely mocked, and moon landing hoax and flat earth videos just a click away, it’s a valid question whether or not kids still point to becoming an astronaut as a dream job for when they become adults, and Space Camp as a fantasy destination for when they get a bit older.

But according to Wellesley librarian Quincy Knapp, that’s not an issue. “I think astronauts are still cool,” she said. “There are at least two kids that came here dressed up in space and star outfits, so I think there’s still a lot of enthusiasm about them.”

The library held “Astronaut Story Time” on Monday, July 1, bringing kids to learn about space travel and listen to a couple of stories from astronauts themselves. But while there were no astronauts in the room, the kids did get to watch a couple videos of astronauts reading to them from the International Space Station.

“This is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing,” Knapp explained, “so the theme for summer reading throughout the nation’s libraries is ‘a universe of stories.’ One of the great things that NASA and the ISS have put on is their ‘Storytime from Space’ program. All the videos are uploaded on YouTube. They’re really accessible; you can watch them at home, at school, or at their library. We wanted to host this event on the big screen so kids can see the International Space Station.”

First was Serena Aunon-Chansler, who read “A Moon of My Own.” With her hair floating in zero gravity behind her, the American finished her story by spinning her book in the weightlessness of space - a nice flourish to end the session. Next was British astronaut Tim Peake, who read “The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home” before showing how he can float around the spacecraft.

When the stories were finished, the children made a variety of space-related crafts, ranging from straw rockets they could blow into and launch, to marshmallow constellations. By far the most fun creations were the astronaut helmets, though. Children either created their own helmets out of paper bags or colored in helmets that had been pre-made out of paper.

From there, Knapp used the screen to portray various images of space so that the kids could stand in front of it and pretend to be astronauts - or have their photo taken so that it looks like they were in space. This was by far the highlight, and the thing that kids most enjoyed. Almost every attendee pretended to be weightless, flailing their arms while their parents took pictures or video on their phones.

So, do kids still think astronauts are cool?

Well, if they didn’t before, with “Astronaut Story Time,” the Wellesley Library did its best to make sure they do now.

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