Making reading fun for children was the goal of a Saturday morning event “Books and Butterflies” at the Downtown South Boston Farmers Market.
The event originally scheduled for the previous weekend was postponed to Labor Day weekend due to inclement weather.
A highlight of the event was a children’s program led by Miss Sue Brooks, who promotes early childhood learning through play.
Miss Sue read country singer-songwriter Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors” about a child’s experience with bullying, and played her guitar, sang and danced with the children.
Brooks also made a craft for the children with Parton’s song “Coat of Many Colors” on the back of it.
“I love being creative, and for the kids, it makes the book come alive,” Brooks said.
“Miss Sue is awesome, teaching early learning through play,” said Ashley Courville, who brought her children, 2-year-old Edward Courville and 4-year-old Alexander Courville, to the Books and Butterflies event. “We like interacting with other kids. Alex will start school next year, so we’re getting him used to being around other kids.”
The children took turns strumming Brooks’ guitar, and danced while singing the “Animal Song,” practicing making animal sounds. Brooks said the goal of the singing and dancing movements is to improve the children’s vocabulary while connecting the right and left sides of their brains.
Along with Brooks’ program, community members read a book to children at the market every half hour. The market also collected donations to help the Halifax County Public Library System bring Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to the children of Halifax County. Children participating in the Imagination Library program receive a free book each month from birth until the age of 5.
“For the children to have their own book, it’s going to give them more of a desire to read,” said Ellen Duque, a retired fifth grade teacher who read to the children during the Books and Butterflies event.
As a bookworm growing up with eight siblings, Duque recalls making frequent trips to the library, the only place she had access to books. She said she wants other children to have access to their own books that they can treasure, an opportunity that Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will offer them.
Those making a donation of $5 or more to the Imagination Library placed a butterfly on a wall at the market. Butterflies were selected because they are a trademark symbol of Dolly Parton.
The Downtown South Boston Farmers Market’s board of directors also cut the ribbon on a new mini library built by market president Kimberly Rich and her husband, Matthew. The mini library has a barn design in keeping with the theme of the farmers market.
“We wanted to do something to give back to the community, and we thought this would be one thing we could do to give back. People are always welcome to come by the library any time to pick up or donate a book,” Rich said.
Childhood literacy is a cause that is dear to Rich’s heart.
“I am a kindergarten teacher, and my sister Kristi is an author who works with publishers, so I appreciate books,” Rich said.
They plan to keep the mini library at the farmers market stocked with adult and children’s books.
Brandee Lloyd’s 5-year-old daughter Elise enjoyed story time with Miss Sue and looked forward to selecting a book from the library.
“It’s a nice way to teach her how to give back. She can take a book from the library and give a book back,” Lloyd said. She added her daughter enjoys having two or three books read to her each night.
Courville’s children Edward and Alexander also are bookworms.
“I re-read multiple books to them every day. It’s their favorite thing,” Courville said.
She added the “Books and Butterflies” event gave her children a chance to see their friends, 1-year-old Matthew Webb and 3-year-old Jacob Webb, children of Andrea Webb. The families usually meet at the library once a week but have not been able to meet since the library has been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.