“Story-WHAT?” I did a double-take and asked her to repeat the name the first time I heard about it. Storyville was a combination word I, a new mother at the time, hadn’t heard before. I needed to get more insight about this.
She explained the concept to me of a play area in the library for young kids and looked me square in the eye before seriously and intently warning me about how it’s so popular (therefore I’m a fool for not having known about it), they start handing out restaurant-style beepers to families when it gets too full, so I should be diligent about arriving early and prepared (you know, with snacks). The beepers vibrate when other kids finally exit and new people can enter the area to prevent over crowding. (That’s a tip only a mom who’s been locked out of Storyville on a rainy day with a crying toddler and no other options can offer. Maybe you’ve been there?).
Further research in my Facebook mommies group yielded literally hundreds of posts and thousands of comments in the backlog mentioning, praising and cataloging experiences at Storyville.
“Does anyone know what kind of magnets these are? We saw them at Storyville in Woodlawn, and I thought they were so fun!”
“My day care is closed on Friday so I’m watching my 3.5 yo and 13 mo by myself. I’m a little scared! I’m thinking Storyville…”
“Can someone tell me what happens at Storyville? I usually go to play partners in HoCo but I keep hearing about Storyville.”
“Storyville Baby Garden at the Rosedale library (also Woodlawn I think) is definitely the cutest free indoor activity around!! Soo fun!!! I’m sure most know about it, but in case not I had to share!!”
All roads pointed to Storyville.
But seeing Storyville in person and watching my little ones interact and play in the child-size grocery store (complete with plastic play food and cash registers, of course), the life-like kitchen (seriously, is the stackable birthday cake always the most popular?), and the interactive Maryland/Chesapeake-themed watershed (with lots of chirping seagull sounds): I was amazed. I couldn’t believe we were first-timers. And this was all, well, free.
Except you and I both know that nothing is free in this world. The Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library calls Storyville one of its “most ambitious undertakings.” The library foundation says the incredible project opened the door for BCPL to provide an especially rich and magical opportunity for preschoolers and adults to participate in emergent literacy activities. My three-year old may have been too busy “buying groceries” to understand the magic, but I could see it. I could see it everywhere.
Storyville, and other programs offered at the library, help my kids develop their early literacy skills and a love for reading. The truth is, a lot of Baltimore parents have either visited Storyville during a rainy time in summer, a frigid snow day, or like me: on a Sunday afternoon when I’m just trying to kill hours before bedtime with my sanity intact (is it really so much to ask the children not to throw hot dogs at the ceiling to get them to stick? And now I have to clean the ceiling and we all just learned the hard way: hot dogs don’t stick).
Whether you’ve taken your kids to Storyville before, sat through a library story time reading, or maybe you’re still waiting for your beeper to go off, think about the resources it takes to keep a magical place like that going every day. So when our kids start getting bored at home (you know that crazy twinkle in the eye they get before the hot-dog throwing begins), or when cabin fever sets in during a blizzard (been there, too), we know we’ll have a place to take them where they can let their imaginations run wild. And while they’re “buying groceries,” we can sit in peace on a double rocking chair a few steps away. Not throwing hot dogs.
Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. This is such an important cause to our family, we wanted to share it with you, too!
Anyone who donates to Foundation for BCPL on Tuesday, December 1 between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. will be entered to win a private party in one of either of the library’s two Storyville locations (a prize exclusive to #GivingTuesday donors and unavailable for purchase). Click here to donate now and read more information about the Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library’s #GivingTuesday giveaway. Read more about Storyville here.