Every Tuesday morning, Eric Davis sits on a bright yellow chair in front of dozens of toddlers and pre-preschoolers at the Clifton branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The youngsters, accompanied by parents and caregivers, clamor eagerly for him to read their favorite titles—in between catchy songs (“Little Donkey Close Your Eyes,” a Margaret Wise Brown book he set to tune), comedic bits (“What do we call a…” bookworm jokes), and general silliness (“I ‘forget’ to finish with “The Hokey Pokey” all the time,” says Davis, who’s been a children’s librarian for 15 years and king of story time for nearly as long. “Without fail, the kids always remind me.”)
Davis, who the kiddos call Mr. Eric, has become so popular that it’s not unusual for a story time to draw upwards of 80 participants, including some high-profile visitors like Senator Cecil Thomas. His secret? A hefty dose of music and lots of movement. “Eric plays the guitar and sings, and will sometimes bring in a drum—he plays in a band—so that’s what makes it different,” says Jill Beitz, the branch manager.
“It’s been shown that incorporating music, singing, dancing, and physical activity [with reading and education] helps with learning,” Davis explains. And clearly, it works: “Parents tell me all the time about their kids coming home and reenacting the books we read or songs we sang,” Davis says. “They get upset if they have to miss a week!”
Movers and Shakers Storytime, Tues, 10 am, ages 1–4; Library Babies Storytime, Wed, 10:30 am, ages 6–18 months; Bedtime Storytime, every third Thurs, 7 pm, ages 1–4;
Clifton (513) 369-4447, cincinnatilibrary.org