Story teller sparks connections, enjoyment for children and families of Pratt and beyond

Billie Blair
Pratt Tribune
Lea Ann Holland of Pratt, known as Mrs. Lea Ann to her young audience, sings an alphabet song with animal noises during a recent online virtual story telling session. The Pratt Public Library has sponsored the online shows for area kids.

No one knows for certain how many children and parents have been joining Mrs. Lea Ann (Holland) for stories and songs virtually during the pandemic, but a special program at the Pratt Public Library has helped many stay connected with the love of reading and learning at the library. 

Even though this virtual experience will end the last Tuesday of March, as the library once again is able to host in-person preschool story hours for 3-5 year olds, the Pratt Public Library has kept Story Time alive and available to the public using its Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest pages.

And it all revolved around the fun, sweet nature of Holland.

“They pay me to tell stories. What could be better than that?” said Holland, who wants everyone to feel good about the library. 

Not having any life experience with toddlers, Holland said she was hesitant to take on the virtual program to entertain the littlest library users when the opportunity arose on May 21, 2020.  Now, she delights in watching their faces and reactions as they sing and dance along with her. 

Singing ABCs songs, making animal noises, dancing with hippos and flipping flannel graph stories are just some of the techniques Holland has perfected over the past year.

She said she has noted that preschool children are able to absorb more of what they hear and see and stay more in tune with what she is doing in the moment than the toddlers do.

"It’s a joy and a challenge at the same time," she said.

Holland said she also learned that each age group has different interests and participation levels.

Since the library’s virtual Story Time began, parents have provided postitive feedback about the program.

“They come into the library and share how they used this time as a way to do finger play with their children or as part of the children’s bedtime routine since it could be watched anytime during the day,” Holland said. “I’m so glad it is something they enjoy.”

Years ago, Holland came to work at the library as a high school student. She stayed on while completing two years at Pratt Community College. She left to complete her education at Emporia State University and to teach for two years. She returned to Pratt and to her work in the library.

“We have a great staff here and all work at having fun with the children, so they will leave with good feelings about their library,” she said.

Open hours now at the Pratt Public Library are Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.  Story-telling time, with songs, puzzles and crafts takes place from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Thursdays.

More information about what is happening at the Pratt Public Library can be found on their Facebook page, website (https://prattpubliclibrary.org/), or by calling 620-672-3041.