Berthoud library launches monthly bilingual storytime
By Shelley Widhalm
When a Berthoud librarian learned Angela Dykstra has a passion for Spanish, she offered her a monthly slot for a new bilingual storytime.
Christy Headrick, youth instructor and research librarian at the Berthoud Community Library District, handed over one of the weekly 10:30 a.m. Wednesday slots to Dykstra so she can offer a children’s book reading, vocabulary lesson, and a craft activity in Spanish and English. The storytime, called Toddler Time, is geared to children ages 2-5 and their parents and guardians and lasts up to one hour.
“I love being able to share my love of Spanish with other kids and being able to see them soak it up, just being able to share the skills and passion I have,” said Dykstra, program volunteer and a Berthoud resident.
Dykstra picks a theme for each storytime and starts with a familiar song in English. She selects key vocabulary words and puts them on poster boards for review and has the children engage in a movement activity as they go over the words. She reads two books in English and Spanish, so the children can hear the stories in both languages, and has the children sing a second song.
“It’s definitely not super intense because they are young,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra launched the bilingual storytime in February when she gave a lesson on colors centered on Bill Martin, Jr.’s book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” Her lesson in March focused on farms with Lara Bergen’s “A Visit to the Farm” and Alice Schertle’s “Little Blue Truck.” She wasn’t able to give a program in April, but for the program to be held on May 29 she will pick books about spring.
“She does a lot of voices, and she is very clear with her Spanish. She does English and Spanish and is able to translate very quickly,” Headrick said. “She’s great, and I’m always interested in people bringing their skills to the library.”
The crafts Dykstra picks vary depending on the theme of the storytime. For the lesson on colors the children colored bear images, and for farms they created farms out of paper bags and used foam stickers for the farm animals.
During the summer months Dykstra will participate in the library’s summer programming, the Summer Reading Initiative with prizes and activities that encourage reading for all ages. She will return to storytime on the same Wednesday each month for the 2019-20 school year but hasn’t determined which day. So far the turnout has been seven to 15 children.
“It’s a great chance to be exposed to another language and another culture, and it’s free,” Dykstra said. “It’s a great chance to give your kids an opportunity while they are young and their brains can soak up things so much faster.”
Dykstra is a former teacher with a major in elementary education and a minor in Spanish from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill. She went to Bogota, Columbia, for two years to teach English to second-language learners. She taught Spanish for another four years at elementary schools in Illinois and Wisconsin to transition Spanish speakers to English, plus taught Spanish to homeschooled children. She moved to Berthoud in August and started attending storytime at that point, bringing her two youngest of three children, she said.
“It’s always been my heart and passion to teach others Spanish. I just love the Latin culture and being able to speak the language,” Dykstra said. “Bilingualism is a huge asset in our culture. Your eyes are opened to different cultures, languages and different ways of being than we are used to.”
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