If you work in the children’s area of the library, you are probably well aware of the popularity of firefighters and fire trucks with our smallest patrons. Why not partner with your local fire department to bring a special program to your library? My library in Brooklyn, NY has been collaborating for several years with our local firehouse as part of an event called “Read Across Brooklyn.” This event takes place each year in early March, coinciding with Read Across America. During our version of the celebration, each of our library branches read the same book on the same day, and many choose to invite a guest reader from the community. We have had great luck by inviting a guest reader from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) to come and read to the Pre-K classes from one of our local elementary schools. In fact, it has been so popular, that both the school and the firefighter contact me every year to make sure that they will be invited back to the event.
This year the program happened to fall during a Nor’easter. The weather was so bad the morning of the event, the school asked us to come to them instead of visiting the library. It is lucky firefighters are prepared to battle all the elements! Firefighter John and I ventured out in the wind and rain to visit a group of 90 children in a very packed school library. It was a hit! After the storytime, the children love getting a chance to ask the firefighter questions about their jobs and getting a good photo op with all of their gear. This is a great example of ways that two members of the “community helper” occupations can help each other to offer a fun program for the community.
While we do ours as part of a larger system-wide celebration, you could also invite a firefighter to come to a special themed storytime at the library. There are numerous options for read alouds, fingerplays, and songs that would work well with this theme. One of my favorites is the version of Hush Little Baby by Brian Pinkney, which features a fire truck! Alternatively, you could reach out to a local firehouse to see if they would be willing to host a storytime, or participate in an outdoor storytime where they could bring the fire truck. This would work especially well during the summer for a summer reading event. I hope you give it a try at your library!
Leigh Fox is the Assistant Manager at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Youth Wing. She can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.