By Joe Earle
Rachel Austin, age 5, knows exactly why she likes Pajama Storytime.
“We can wear flip-flops and our jammies!” Rachel said.
Actually, those are some of the same reasons Frances Weaver, who’s 28, likes Pajama Storytime. “There’s something fun about having children show up at the library in pajamas,” Weaver said.
Something fun for adults, too. Weaver has been reading Pajama Storytime stories to the kids at the Brookhaven branch of the DeKalb County Library each month for about a year, and for many of the night-time storytimes, Weaver has worn her pajamas, just like the kids she’s reading to.
“I usually milk it,” she admitted with a grin. “I’ll put on my pajamas 15 minutes early and come upstairs [into the main library] and I’ll be walking around in my pajamas.”
No flip-flops, though. “Monkey shoes,” she said.
Weaver has worked at the Brookhaven Library branch for about two years, she said, and at different branches for about five years altogether, she said. Later this summer she’ll move to the new Stonecrest branch library and a new reader will take over Brookhaven’s monthly Pajama Storytime, an evening session for kids 5 and younger.
On May 25, 16 kids and 13 parents sat on the floor in the back room of the library branch’s basement to hear Weaver perform what may have been her final Brookhaven Pajama Storytime.
Dressed in a polka-dot blouse and dark slacks – she had forgotten to bring her pajamas that day – Weaver worked her way through children’s books such as “No More Yawning,” “Bark, George,” and “Go Away Big Green Monster,” a story that encouraged the members of her audience to yell the title over and over again to scare away the monster.
Lisa Austin, Rachel’s mom, said she and her two daughters attend the nighttime story-time session just about every month. “We love it,” she said. “The kids get excited about it all day when they’re coming. They get to wear their pajamas out.”
First-time attendees Jeff and Heather O’Connell, parents of 4-year-old Austin, who wore a Superman T-shirt, said they were impressed with the half-hour program. “It’s great,” Jeff O’Connell said. Besides, he said, “I actually had no idea this place had a basement.”
It does. And each month it turns into a place that offers young children and their parents a place to escape into a new world of stories. “Especially in this community, we have a lot of nannies and a lot of working parents,” Weaver said. “This is a chance for the whole family to come to the library.”
Reading with children is important, she said. “I was read to a lot as a child,” she said. “I remember how important that was to me. So I like to read to kids.
“Also, I feel like a kid.”
During Pajama Storytime, Weaver encourages her young audience to join in the storytelling. They sang “The Wheels on the Bus” to warm up for her reading of “The Seals on the Bus.” They yawned widely as she read “No More Yawning.” And they shouted “go Away” to make the Big Green Monster in “Go Away Big Green Monster” do just that.
The crowd favorite? “The monster one,” said Dempsey Allers, age 4 ½.
“I liked the Big Green Monster because we could make it go away,” Rachel said.
Weaver picked the same book, for just about the same reason. “I really like ‘Go Away Big Green Monster,’” she said. “It tells them that if a monster shows up in the night, they can tell him to go away.”
Besides, it was the final book of the night.
And after Weaver finishes reading the last book at Pajama Storytime, everybody gets milk and cookies.