Bridge between cultures: Bilingual storytime lets kids learn two languages at once

Published 12:03 am Sunday, February 19, 2023

SALISBURY — For little kids growing up, storytime is a fun, important activity where they can learn and make friends along the way. It’s also a chance to hear new songs and words in a stress-free environment. Rowan Public Library has its own storytime and includes its version in both English and Spanish.

Every Friday at 10 a.m., Aida Garwood leads bilingual storytime. Garwood helped start the program in 2018. During COVID, the library put the classes on hold, but began them again last fall because no other bilingual programs were available.

Garwood likes to play a ukulele while singing a greeting song during every class in Spanish and English so children can naturally learn both languages. Garwood has shakers for the kids to play with, CDs for other kinds of music and picture books for them to follow along. Garwood said that storytime is mostly in English, but it also offers several chances to learn new Spanish words and phrases.

More people came to storytime before COVID, but attendance has increased in the past few months. Garwood was surprised with how many people showed up this past week.

“I wasn’t expecting to have so many. The numbers are increasing the more they know about the storytime,” Garwood said.

After storytime, everyone could work on some arts and crafts together. Garwood plans on continuing bilingual storytime “until they don’t need me.”

For those being exposed at a young age to different languages offers a beneficial skill that should help them as they get older.

“You have some kids who only speak Spanish at home and you have some kids who only speak English, it’s kind of like a bridge in between cultures,” Garwood said.

Aida Garwood helps kids along with their parents learn English and Spanish. Brad Dountz