OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Omaha Public Library’s (OPL) Summer Reading Program's in-person activities have returned this year after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
That includes visits from one of its favorite visitors.
Storytimes with Penelope the Dinosaur will be going on all week at different branches across the metro.
In Elkhorn on Friday, more than 130 kids and adults came together for storytime.
Kids and parents, or guardians, that attend participate in a storytime about Penelope, sing and dance to different songs, draw, participate in a scavenger hunt, and get to meet the dinosaur.
This gives children the opportunity to develop their language skills while having fun and interacting with others—all for free. It’s what the OPL Summer Reading Program is all about.
"Just for signing up, kids get a free book. If they read for ten hours or do ten activities that are specific in our booklet, they get another free book, and then a coupon for another free book,” OPL Youth Services Librarian Nancy Chmiel said. “We are really trying to get books in the hands of kids, and these activities are fun. So, go visit other libraries, engage your kids around stories, and have a wonderfully fun summer exploring Omaha and all that the library has to offer."
The Elkhorn branch says for some kids these activities have been the first time they've interacted with other kids because of the pandemic, and while technology continues to grow, the first place kids want to walk into is the storytime room.
The library says this interaction is crucial to a child's development.
"When you have a book and you're with a child with that book—not only are you doing stuff with the language of that book, but it's also just time to spend with children. That's what they want. They want to feel special and you taking that extra time as a grown-up, whether it's your own child, your grandchild, or you're babysitting them,” Chmiel said. “Especially when they're little. They're like little sponges and will take everything in so just keep feeding them."
Penelope's visit is special, but the Elkhorn branch has storytime every Wednesday and Friday.