By Steve Sears
Monica Galiano, Children’s Event Coordinator for the Bloomingdale Free Public Library since October 2018, is hosting story time, leading a group of 11 toddlers in activity.
First there is the singing of “Hello children, I’m glad you came today…” with each child’s name eventually finding a home in the initial line, a march to music around the tiny Juvenile Area, a sing-along, and finally a coloring and pasting arts and crafts session.
“She’s really good,” says Katarzyna Wizner, mom to daughter Julia and son Maximus, who attend often. “I like how the program works here. The crafts are really good.”
“This job happily fell into my lap,” says Galiano, who speaks both English and Spanish. “That ability to speak Spanish – a lot of the children come here after school for homework help, and their parents don’t speak a lot of English, so with me being able to explain to the parents how to help their children do their homework, it helps them go home and understand what their children have to do, and the parents will look at me and grasp what their children needed to get done that they weren’t getting done before.”
Galiano, lovingly known to the children as “Miss Monica”, brings her own children to the Bloomingdale Public Library, and she says they love the books. “They love to read, that love to read to each other.” Also, there’s that special something the Borough and tiny library deliver. “It’s the hometown feeling you get here.”
Then there’s the throwback to Galiano’s own childhood. Her mom was a Teacher’s Aide, and she often visited the library with her when younger. “This job opened up my mom in me,” Galiano says with a smile, reflecting. “I see my mom shine through. She loved kids, she loved the reading aspect. I remember going to story times with my mom, her sitting down on the floor with me, reading a book.”
Galiano’s tasks include conducting story times, which can entail all that was mentioned earlier, in addition to pajama parties, watching movies, inviting special guests to speak to children (“I recently had a dentist come in, because I feel that kids can’t be afraid of dentists,” she adds), and more. “This,” Galiano says, pointing to the shelved books and other things in the Juvenile Area, “is all different realms of knowledge. You come back here, and you hold the world in your hands. The different countries, the different things about your state, and then you have your imagination.”
“You open up different realms of the universe. It’s just awesome.”
Galiano now visits the local schools to read to young students, and she and Patricia Adam Perugino, Library Director, are trying to get more involved in the schools. Perugino applauds what Galiano has brought to the library. “Monica is an incredible asset to the library staff! Her positive attitude and customer service skills make her a real team player,” says Perugino. “She is creative, enthusiastic and self-motivated as she plans, designs, and implements age-appropriate events for children. Monica is compassionate and eager to facilitate the Summer Reading Program, A Universe of Stories.”
Jennifer Storms, a Bloomingdale resident and mom to 3 -year-old Jonah and 1-year-old Julianna says, “The kids get to socialize with each other, they have lots of activities, they play with bubbles, they get music, they do a craft, they read a story, so it’s just a variety if things.” And as for Miss Monica? “They love her.”
Galiano hopes to educate children more about and raise awareness about different diseases. “I love the fact that they do that now in the schools,” she says, eager to aid, pointing out the books that have green dots on them, books that teach about Autism awareness, educate regarding children in wheelchairs, and more.
The Bloomingdale Free Public Library is located at 101 Hamburg Turnpike. Visit www.bloomingdalelibrary.org for more information about library programs.