MARINE CORPS LOGISTIC BASE ALBANY, GA -- The laughter of more than 290 children and teachers filled the base theater June 20 when they saw the first presentation of the Dougherty County Library Summer Reading Program. The presentation was designed to pique children's interest in reading and to show them what the library offers.
Three ladies decorated the stage with books, props and drawings of classic fairy tales. The eager audience saw 'The Three,' a modern twist of three classic stories: The Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff and Goldilocks and the Three bears.
According to Carol Stansbury, Child Development Center curriculum director, the program was a good tool to introduce children to the various tools and programs available to them at the local library.
"Programs like this help children enjoy reading. And the earlier they learn to read, the better off they will be," said Stansbury, who added that parents should start reading to their children as soon as they are born to help the child develop more quickly.
The 'modern twist' to the stories was designed to help the children get more involved in the presentation and to show them that there are several ways to look at the same story. For example, the story of the Three Little Pigs was told from the wolfÕs perspective.
Another tool designed to help children stay involved was keeping the sketches impromptu. The entertainers didn't follow a script. They had few basic ideas established, but the exact words weren't decided.
"We rehearsed for about 15 minutes before the program started," said said Selena Wingfield, youth services director for the Dougherty County Library. "We just told the children it was a practice session, and that if they had any input to go ahead and say it. We wanted them to know they could interact with us," she said.
The main ideas for the stories were based on principles all children need to learn, such as physical fitness, getting up early and cleaning their rooms. The actors 'subtly' placed these themes into their dramatic presentations to help point the children in the right direction.
"The children are morel likely to learn and remember everything if they are a part of the story," said Wingfield.
According to Wingfield, one child approached her after the sketches were over and asked if she could become the wolf again. Another child asked her, "Was that a real wolf?"
"They have wonderful imaginations," said Wingfield. "I didn't wear a costume or anything, I just changed my voice a little, but when I acted like the wolf, they saw a wolf. When I acted like the goat, they saw a goat."
"If you don't use it, you lose it. We just want to give children the opportunity to use their imaginations."
Another reason Wingfield wanted to hold the first performance on the base was to familiarize the children and teachers with the area.
"A lot of people have never been here. This helps them get a better idea of what is around them and what is available to them," said Wingfield.
As part of the program, Wingfield plans to take the children to other places, such as the airport, where she plans to have a pilot tell the story of making a flight.
The program was once held on a golf green. Wingfield said that after that, she was surrounded by children who wanted to learn to play golf. In addition, every book in the library that had anything to do with golf pro Tiger Woods was checked out.
"That is exactly what we want to do with this program. If children learn to enjoy reading at an early age, they are more likely to carry that with them for the rest of their lives," said Wingfield.
Wingfield said one reason they do stories of old classics is because there is already basis there for the audience to relate to. This allows the actors to tailor the presentation to fit the age group they are dealing with, while not losing anything from the story. They could talk to young children and use more slapstick comedy or speak to high school students and address issues that relate to teenagers by using more of a witty banter.