Written by Ihsuan Tsai and Judy Anderson
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Patrick McShane
On June 2, 2023, a crisp and pleasant day in Los Angeles, California, Tzu Chi’s Great Love Preschool in Monrovia invited parents to participate in a field trip to the neighboring Monrovia Public Library to listen to librarians tell stories. Many of the school’s activities had been suspended for the past three years due to the pandemic, but this year, the school’s activities have returned to normal.
Taking the Opportunity to Teach Library Etiquette
Everyone excitedly got ready for the 15-minute walk from the kindergarten to the Monrovia Library. Upholding the Tzu Chi etiquette that they had been taught during their school days, the children followed the teacher’s footsteps in an orderly manner, while the parents held their children’s hands and walked slowly. Caring dads acted as crossing guards to ensure that all students crossed the road safely.
It was the first time the younger students participated in off-campus library instruction. Teachers seized the opportunity to pay special attention to the children’s good manners, and taught them the etiquette they needed to maintain in the library. When the children arrived at the story room, teacher Michelle Olivares gently reminded the children to be courteous of other people when entering a library, not only walking gently, but also avoiding making noise. When they met someone they knew, they greeted them with a nod and a smile rather than talking too loudly.
She asked the children, “In the story room, where there are no chairs, how should we sit?” A student named Avery Lien replied, “Sit cross-legged.” The teacher then asked, “What should we do in the library?” Without hesitation, another student, Mason Lin, said, “Keep quiet.” The children were impressed by the quietness of the environment.
Great Love Preschool’s field trips and off-campus programs were suspended for three years due to the pandemic. Happy that the long wait was over and the next generation of readers was again able to use the library, Librarian Annette Simpson was waiting to welcome the line of children when they showed up at the front door. “We really missed you guys,” she said. “It’s great to see kids and families coming to the library, and enjoying storytelling time and activities like singing and dancing.” The Monrovia Public Library is grateful for Great Love Preschool’s long-standing partnership and hopes to continue to utilize the library’s vast resources for the benefit of students.
Using Public Resources to Benefit Students
Librarian Annette’s storytelling skills kept the children glued to the story’s plot; her rhythmic tones, coupled with theatric gestures and language, made the children laugh. Even the parents were brought into the fairy tale story and were immersed in the happy atmosphere. Some of the parents even took advantage of the opportunity to learn how to tell stories.
In addition to storytelling, the Monrovia Public Library prepared many activities for the children. One of the reasons the preschool arranged for parents to participate in the field trip together is to give parents the opportunity to learn about the library’s various activities and resources, which they can then enjoy with their children in the future.
After listening to the story, the teacher asked the children to share their thoughts on the story. A student, Yi Qian Zheng, happily voiced his feelings: “I like that doggy [in the story] because it makes funny noises that make me laugh, and it can make the sounds of animals like a cow, a rooster, a pig, a cat, and a dog.”
The children’s responses were joyful. From the regular classroom to the library, the experience of learning outside of school was new to them. Oliver Lockett said, “I like the library’s off-campus program because there is story-telling, singing, and dancing.” Di Liang Wu enjoyed his mom’s company: “I’m so happy when my mom comes to the library with me and then reads with me.”
Learning On The Go, With Teaching Materials Along The Way
Parent Ci Wang Han hopes the program will inspire the children to want to go to the library more for reading and learning. “This is a great program, we get to see how children interact with librarians and other children outside of the classroom and outside of their homes. And we get to see that they may have different personalities,” she said. Parents and children participating in off-campus instruction together help foster more parent-child time. She hopes to have more opportunities for library instruction programs in the future, and affirms that, “I think it will be a very good off-campus instruction.”
According to parent Li Yang: “Off-campus teaching is a great program for children. They have a chance to get out of the classroom every day and go outside. Just walking on the road is a good learning process; we can see that the children recognize trees, mountains, and local animals along the way! The fact that the destination is a well-resourced library makes it an even better and more meaningful teaching experience for the children.”
Joey Yuen, a parent who volunteered at the event, was pleased to see the children leave the classroom happily and excited to enjoy learning outside of school: “For the walk to the library, the school made great safety arrangements, with volunteer parents, caring dads, and the children, to make sure that both adults and children were safe on the way,” she said.
Everyone’s efforts combined to help the students gain a love and appreciation for learning both inside the classroom and outside its walls, finding joy among books, and in the world around them.