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Children enjoy outdoor interactive storytelling sessions

Eyleen Gomez

The sounds of pirates, sharks and laughter were brought to the Alameda Gardens as children listened to Tanya Santini read to them as part of the Gibraltar Culture Services storytelling sessions.

Gathered, with social distancing in mind, under the band stand the children and their parents or guardians listened intently as Ms Santini, a John Mackintosh Library storytelling volunteer, brought book characters to life and encouraged each child to join in.

The children were very responsive miming all gestures or answering questions.

People do need to book so that numbers can be keep under the Covid-19 guidelines.

“We are extremely pleased with the response we have had so far to our outdoor storytelling sessions at the Alameda Botanic Gardens,” Head of Cultural Development, Davina Barbara said.

“Due to Covid restrictions we are unable to run the sessions at the John Mackintosh Hall Library, so we are very pleased that we can offer this service in this beautiful outdoor setting.”

“Right now we are running sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We are doing one session in the morning at 11 and the other at 4.30pm.”

“What we are doing is alternating these every week because we appreciate if you have an after school activity on a Tuesday and we always do that as an afternoon session then you might not be able to make it. By doing this we are giving people more of a chance to attend.”

“Even though we are allowed groupings of a maximum of 20 we are limiting it even further. So we wouldn’t have more than 13 or 14, or 15 inclusive of the reader and a member of Gibraltar Cultural Services,” she said.

At present the storytelling sessions are targeted at three to five year olds, but this is flexible.
“But, it is very much child led and children respond to the books in different ways,” said Ms Barbara.

“Sometimes they follow the pictures, we make it interactive for them. They are asked or ask questions, it depends on the story and it depends on the reader because some books are more about rhyme and others more of a story.”

“I know when I have done it I have chosen books that focus on numbers and counting and shapes and I make more interactive and ask more questions, so that type of format.”

“We are very grateful to our team of volunteers, who are extremely committed and enthusiastic. They bring a variety of delivery styles and energy to the readings, all of which are thoroughly enjoyed by the young audience.”

There is also a new selection of books available for children at the library and the storytellers and introducing the children to these. They also endeavour to make the books relevant to the Botanic Garden itself.

“Today one of the books is called Bloom,” said Ms Barbara.

“This gets the children’s creative thinking process and gets them to appreciate the outdoors, the beautiful scenery, this amazing setting that is the Alameda Botanic Gardens.”

“We have to say a thank you to the Botanic Gardens, this is a great collaboration that we have just started with their new educational officer Shawna Jones and we have been able to launch because of them.”

“From the Library’s perspective, storytelling is about sharing the love of books and stories, stimulating creative thought and providing a fun and enjoyable experience for parents and children to share. Furthermore it has been lovely to see that those attending are then exploring the area and making the most of the gardens, and all it has to offer.”

Those wishing to attend can book in advance by contacting GCS on tel: 20049161 or email: info@culture.gi