I just finished reading Little Bee by Chris Cleave for my book club. Without revealing too much of the plot (the book jacket implores the reader to "please don't..tell what happens. The magic is in how it unfolds."), there are many life lessons to learnt, but what most struck me was the idea of people wanting to make the world a better place. It really got me thinking. Now, I'm not a social activist. You won't see me at a protest making a big stink about things. And while I'd love to be a missionary in the field, the reality is that I have a family and a life here, and I'm not going to drag them with me. I'm just not that kind of person. But I do want to make a difference somehow. I thought I might start with what I know.
A few posts back, I wrote about how disappointed I was with the Storytime at Chapters. Turns out I'm not alone. I had a park playdate with a friend, and she told me about her ongoing quest to find a good story time. When I told her I had considered starting my own story time with another actor friend, she thought it was a good idea. So did another mom in the park who happened to be within earshot of our conversation. She volunteered to be our first audience.
So I thought - can I really do this?? Can I really marry my three greatest loves of theatre, reading and children and carve out a little space for myself to make a difference in the lives of children? And I thought about all the things that I could do with this space: read a wide range of interesting kids books, without sticking to the Chapters stock; put on puppet shows and mini kid-friendly theatrical presentations (think Free to Be...You and Me!); involve the kids in the stories by getting them to act it out; or invite "guest stars" - people I know in the industry - to come and read/act/sing. My head is spinning.
But before I do anything, I need to do some "market research". I need your help. If you have a moment, and the inclination, can you please give me some feedback on what is important to you in a good story time? Here are some questions I need answers for:
Do you or your caregiver attend a story time regularly?
What do/don't you like about the story time that you attend?
What age range of stories would you like to see (ie. should the books be kept for the under 4 set, or would you be interested in a session for, say, ages 5-9?)
Is stroller parking, or access to (sweet, sweet) caffeine a must? Or just a plus??
Would you be willing to travel to see this kind of thing, if parking or subway made it accessible? Or would you only go if it was in your neighbourhood.
And, here's a doozy: If the story time was an hour long, included cookies and juice, and a handout of books read (or activities to do based on books read) -- would you be willing to pay to attend (for example, $5 per child, but parents/caregivers and babies 0-6 mths are free? Or would you only consider attending if it was free??
I don't know if this could really happen, I have to do some more investigation. I'm excited by the possibilities, though. Maybe I can't make the world at large a better place, but I'd be more than happy if I could make a kid's day.