It's a small world after all. North County youngsters can take a trip to Russia, Mexico and Korea by merely stopping by Hereford Branch Library for three upcoming bilingual story times.
Students at Oldfields School who are from those three countries will read books in their native languages to kids ages 2 to 5 on March 30, April 26 and May 10. Wearing traditional clothing, they'll also sing childhood songs and help children with a craft.
The collaboration came about as the Hereford library sought to increase its outreach into the community at the same time that Oldfields School, on Glencoe Road in Sparks, searched for ways for its students to complete community service hours.
Hereford Branch librarian and outreach coordinator, Olivia Mirot, met with Michele Harrison, Oldfields' director of community service.
"We just brainstormed ideas, and we both came up with the idea of bilingual story time since we have international students," Harrison said.
Oldfields, a day and boarding school for girls in grades eight through 12, is home to 180 students from 12 different countries. In all, about 23 percent of its enrollment is international.
Each girl is asked to give 80 hours of community service before graduating. At least 10 Oldfields students volunteered to participate in bilingual story time.
Mirot held workshops at the Hereford library to help the girls learn how to conduct a 30-to-45-minute story time, complete with books, songs, activities and crafts.
At the March 30 story time, Liz Matsiyevskiy, whose parents are from Belarus and who spoke Russian as her first language, will read three Dr. Seuss books in honor of the author's 100th birthday.
She said she plans on visiting her Russian grandmother in the United States before her March 30 reading so she can brush up on her pronunciation. Oldfields students Samantha Frazier and Megan Rivera will accompany her to provide English translation.
While the books' illustrations are the same as those familiar to American kids, the words are written in Cyrillic, the 33-letter Russian alphabet.
The cat in the "Cat in the Hat" is called a kot and the author's name, "Dr.," is written as Dokmop.
At the April 26 story time, four Oldfields girls will take turns reading in Spanish as well as English. Maria Salazar, Regina Cervantes and Valeria Guerra, from Mexico, and Bianca Garzozi, from Ecuador, will read children's books that feature animals. They have planned songs and an animal-inspired craft.
At the May 10 story time, three girls from South Korea — Bo Ra Jung; her sister, Hee Ra Jung; and Min Seon "Kate" Song — will read a book in the "Rainbow Fish" series. They will wear colorful hanboks — traditional dresses normally worn for special occasions.
The girls said the "Rainbow Fish" books are very popular in South Korea.
Oldfields student Megan Rivera has volunteered to read the books in English at that story time.
Mirot said the Hereford Branch already had copies of some children's books in Spanish, but had to borrow books in Russian and Korean from other branches.
She said the teams of storytellers will introduce a few words in a foreign language to the children and reinforce them during the story time.
The Oldfields-Hereford partnership has already had results. Oldfields students volunteered to decorate the library for Valentine's Day. On Feb. 1, they held a T-shirt decorating workshop, asking teens to bring in old T-shirts to turn into works of art.
Pre-registration is not necessary for the bilingual story times, which are open to kids ages 2 to 5 with an adult. March 30 at 2 p.m. will offer Russian language; April 26 at 10:30 a.m. is for Spanish; and May 10 at 10:30 a.m. will feature Korean.
The Hereford Branch Library is at 16940 York Road in Monkton. For more details, call 410-887-1919.