June 24, 2013

By Ariel Birdoff

Sesame Street Swings by the Library

The Publishing Group's Karen Halpenny reads to children at the New York Public Library.

Ariel Birdoff has been a member of the Sesame Workshop Publishing Group for more than eight years.

As part of Sesame’s Count Me In volunteer program, the Workshop’s Publishing Group is spending two Friday mornings a month in the company of preschoolers, caregivers, and librarians at the nearby Riverside Branch of the New York Public Library, just up the block! As lovers of books and champions of children’s literacy, we wanted to find a way to spend some of our volunteer hours working with both books and children. We were very lucky to find children’s librarian Rachel Evans and her beautiful children’s room so close by. To be able to help out in our own neighborhood feels extra special! 

With the children’s room bustling with eager young readers, Ms. Evans most needed our help shelving books. For two hours each volunteer day, we wheel book carts through the stacks, carefully avoiding excited toddlers, and shelve books on hands and knees. It has been a welcome re-introduction to the Dewey Decimal System we all remember from our school days. To book lovers, editors, and writers like ourselves, there is nothing so satisfying as finding the exact spot a book belongs, allowing it to be easily found again by potential readers.

Since beginning our volunteer work, we have also been invited by Ms. Evans to lead occasional Toddler Story Hour events. Our first one took place Friday, June 21st, and was a great success. The children loved hearing the Sesame Street stories, and then had lots of fun with an array of Sesame Street coloring pages. They especially enjoyed meeting the Publishing Group’s resident hand-designed Muppet, Tangerine, who is a perfect ambassador to introduce children to the wonders of reading and Sesame Street.

While spending any time at a library is a treat for all of us, it is especially meaningful to me. Just last year I graduated from the University of Tennessee’s School of Information Sciences with my Master’s degree. Having the opportunity to “play librarian” each month with my colleagues is very special to me. Whether I am visiting my old friend Dewey while shelving books, or making new preschool friends through storytelling, the time spent at the Riverside Library is fun, relaxing, and rewarding.

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