Finding opportunities for a social life can be a challenge for the elementary-school-aged crowd here in eastern Cabarrus County.
Beyond school, church and Saturday morning ball games, there hasn't been a lot going on for this age group.
Preschool Story Time has long been a staple at the Mount Pleasant library (part of the Cabarrus County Public Library system). Under the direction of library manager Laurel Reisen, 2- to 5-year-olds sing, play and hear stories while they develop social skills and meet other children.
As Reisen said, "Only one person does story time better than me, and I taught him."
Working with children is something she clearly loves. It's hard to tell who's having more fun, the librarian or the children.
Last month Reisen started offering Noodle Head Story Time for 4- to 8-year-olds. Noodle Head has something for everyone: It's like going to a gym, nightclub, concert hall and book club meeting, all in one half-hour.
Reisen starts Noodle Head time with some physical activity. She tries to tire the children out a little before she starts reading to them.
When it's time for the story to begin, Reisen becomes even more animated. As she reads through "Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct" and other Mo Willems books, the audience is spellbound, listening carefully as the stories come to life.
Interspersed with the books are silly songs and fun dances that keep everyone engaged and entertained. When Noodle Head Story Time ends, children happily scamper off to find books or visit with friends. Reisen is tired, but clearly on a high from playing with children.
She enjoys story time so much, in fact, that this month she's adding yet another session. This one is designed for babies up to age 2. It's appropriately called "The Young and the Restless."
I asked Reisen what makes each story time unique. She explained that, for preschoolers, her focus is more education- and literacy-based; they're learning as they play and listen. Noodle Head, she said, is fun because she can read longer stories and really encourage the children to keep reading on their own.
Story time for babies is more "loosey-goosey," she said: short, quick stories, rhymes and finger plays and not too much emphasis on structure.
Oh, and she'll be ordering more board books for this youngest crowd, who are almost as happy to chew their books as read them.
If you'd like to expand a child's social horizons and attend story time at the Mount Pleasant Library, there's no need to call ahead; just join the fun:
Preschool Story Time is at 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays.
Noodle Head Story Time is at 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
And starting this week, The Young and the Restless will meet at 11 a.m. Thursdays.