By Maria Wyllie
Explorebigsky.com Editorial Assistant

BIG SKY – Local kids ages five and under have the chance to play with others while also reading and practicing their library manners at the Big Sky Community Library’s story time sessions.

Held Mondays at 10:30 a.m., Story Time focuses on a different theme every week, with each one relating the story to a current or historical event. The story is then followed by an educational activity designed to enhance the children’s understanding of the book.

“[Story Time] makes kids more familiar with the library and how to check out books,” said Librarian Kathy House. “It’s great for the school to have kids ready to make the next step into kindergarten.”

On Jan. 21, the group celebrated Winnie-the-Pooh author A. A. Milne’s birthday. Children held onto toddler-sized, stuffed Tiggers, Poohs and Eeyores while assistant librarian Danielle Kabisch read aloud, bringing to life the 100 Acre-Wood.

Children approached Kabisch with excitement at the story’s end, asking for more. One toddler enjoyed the story so much that Kabisch let him take home her personal copy.

Kids then sat down to enjoy cupcakes and ice cream on Winnie-the-Pooh themed plates and napkins before beginning the morning’s craft.

Making the literature connection between books and crafts is an important component of Story Time, House said. For Milne’s birthday, the group made necklaces out of honey-nut cheerios; earlier this winter, they created winter scenes out of tin foil and various textiles to complement seasonal stories such as The Mitten and The Snowy Day.

Story Time also provides social interaction in a public setting, giving kids the chance to play with others while also getting early exposure to reading.

Mindy Nowakowski, mother of three-and-a-half-year-old twins Hunter and Tucker, comes every Monday. Since her kids aren’t in preschool, she says Story Time gives them structure and teaches them how to behave in the library.

In addition to Story Time, the library offers many other resources for parents and children. There are puzzles and games, as well as an online library with animated stories and games parents can access at home.

February is “Love Your Library Month.” The Big Sky Community Library invites you to take advantage of all it has to offer.