By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Outdoor storytime is back at the Westwood Public Library and it’s making a huge splash for visitors.
On Thursday, July 15, parents, grandparents, and guardians brought kids to the library to enjoy a regularly-scheduled storytime. As per usual, there was nothing but fun to be had as Children’s Librarian Kristy Pasquariello led the kids through fun activities and read a few picture books, all revolving around the theme of oceans.
The crowd began with the brief "Hello" song to get everyone moving and primed for an active storytime. They quickly followed up with the weather song. The kids were already squealing in excitement and even socializing by the time they started their first story of the day.
Not all storytimes at the library are planned with a theme in mind, but Pasquariello surprised the audience with a plethora of ocean-themed songs and stories. The first book of this storytime session was “Hooray for Fish,” by Lucy Cousins. The clever rhyming story brought readers through the ocean to see all the different fish that swim through the ocean. “Happy fish and gripy fish,” read Pasquariello, before explaining the word: “He’s grumpy, that’s what gripy means.” While parents surely appreciated the vocabulary lesson, the kids in the audience were too wrapped up in the story of the fish and the colorful illustrations to notice.
Outdoor storytime was introduced last fall, when COVID-19 restrictions made it impossible to host the program indoors. Thursday's iteration saw the most people in attendance since it restarted. “It feels good to be back. We’re looking forward to the fall when we can be with no registration, but we’re still trying to keep it on the smaller side,” Pasquariello explained. “It’s so good to see all these babies that I haven’t seen who are now toddlers and preschoolers.”
Following the first fish book, Pasquariello shifted gears. “Should we sing a fish song, now?” she asked the audience, as children nodded eagerly. “Put your hands together and we’ll pretend they're fish.” The kids harmonized and clapped along with their leader: “Two little blue fish swimming in water, bubble, bubble, bubble, pop!” Pasquariello then took suggestions from the audience about what color fish they should sing about next. The kids were enamored - like a fish to bait, as it were - as they shouted out different colors for the next fish to swim through the ocean.
Only one other thing could get the kids completely hook, line, and sinker: Pasquariello pulled out a shiny pink fish puppet from her bag. The kids instantly became ecstatic - a few even managed to escape the family picnic blanket to make their way to the puppet. “We’ll be available for meet-and-greets after storytime,” joked Pasquariello.
She wasn't kidding. After a few more stories and songs, the puppet returned and greeted many of the waiting children.
Westwood's tots left with their heads full of half a dozen new ocean songs, and some cool fish knowledge to go along with it - just another fine day at Westwood Library's outdoor storytime.