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By SHAINA STOCKTON, Staff
The semi-circle of children gathered around Sarah Largen were at full attention as the Galax Public Library’s new youth services coordinator animatedly led them into the wacky world of Dr. Seuss.
As the whimsical rhyming continued, several small gasps were heard from the audience. Small fingers pointed towards the door, where the Cat in the Hat stood, waving.
After giving several hello hugs, the fantastic feline took a seat next to Largen just as the story’s protagonist took a huge bite of green eggs and ham for the first time.
“Do any of you like green eggs and ham?” Largen asked the children, and grinned when she received a fairly mixed response.
Only a couple of weeks into her new role, Largen has already settled in nicely. She has worked with the library for several years, so she is already acquainted with many of the families who walk in the door.
She started as a volunteer in 2009 under Carlene Poole, who was the youth librarian for more than 30 years. “She did a great job, and I learned a lot from her,” Largen said.
She helped Poole with several youth events and programs, and also put in several daytime hours with other members of the staff. That September, she was hired as a library assistant.
When the position of youth services coordinator became available, Largen saw it as a great opportunity. “I enjoyed working with kids and I thought it would be a good fit,” she said.
Largen grew up in Galax, and graduated from Galax High School in 2006. She received her degree in literary studies and art, with a minor in Appalachian studies, from Lees-McRae College in North Carolina. She is pursing her master’s degree in library and educational sciences at San Jose State University in California.
Largen puts her artistic talents to use for her storytime events, and the Dr. Seuss Birthday-themed party was a perfect example. To accompany the stories, she drew and laminated large wall decorations featuring the The Grinch, Thing One and Thing Two. After the stories were read, she handed out handfuls of hearts for the children to pin on the Grinch.
They were then led to a series of tables accented with large Truffula trees, inspired by "The Lorax," where they drew faces on their very own Cat in the Hat.
A Seuss-themed snacktime followed, complete with goldfish, “cat hats” made from bananas and strawberries, and green eggs and ham, made with food-colored deviled eggs with rolled up ham slices in the center.
The storybook dish was a hit with the children. They came back for second and third helpings until the platter was empty.
Largen hosts one storytime each week at the Galax and Carroll County library branches. This fall, she hopes to double that number to accommodate parents’ schedules. “I would like to host one in the morning and one in the afternoon,” she said.
Her inspirations each week come from a variety of sources. She notes that, when she is out of ideas, other local librarians are a great resource. “They are always willing to help out, and it’s good to put our heads together sometimes to come up with ideas,” she said.
Largen has also started the Lego League program, which meets Mondays in Carroll and Tuesdays in Galax from 4-5:30 p.m. for kids to create with the building blocks.
She also hopes to incorporate puppets into future storytime presentations, she said.
Overall, Largen’s goal is to pass her love for reading along to her audience. “I want [the kids] to develop a love for reading and an appreciation of reading, and if I can be a part of that, I would be delighted,” she said.
• Storytime hours are on Wednesdays in Galax and Thursdays in Carroll, both from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
The Galax Public Library is located at 610 W. Stuart Drive. For more information, call 236-2351.
The Carroll County Public Library is located at 101 Beaver Dam Road, Hillsville. For more information, call the business office at 728-2228 or the circulation desk at 728-3334.