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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Tux the cat visits library

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Spencer Clay listens to "Tux the Cat" purr during the Sikeston Public Library Story Hour.
SIKESTON -- A group of youngsters gathered around Lanette Baker, executive director of the Humane Society Monday afternoon, pushing to the front of the line to pet and listen to Tux the cat purr.

Tux didn't seem to mind the extra attention, either. "When cats are happy, they purr," Baker later explained.

But after about five minutes, she held the black and white cat back. "He has to take a break every once in awhile," Baker said.

It was story hour for kindergarten through third grades at the Sikeston Public Library. The theme was "Cats" for week three of the six-week program, called "Paws, Claws, Scales and Tales."

Ann Thompson, children's librarian at the Sikeston Public Library, said this is one of the best themes for the program. "Kids are animal oriented," she said. "They love the animals and they love to pet them.

During Baker's presentation, the curious and chatty children learned what to feed cats and what to do if they saw a strange animal in their neighborhood -- finding a grown up or safe place, while making sure not to yell or move too quickly.

Following the presentation, Thompson read two books about cats to the quiet, attentive group, while they guessed the ending. Other suggested books, all about animals, are set up in different stations throughout the room for children to check out.

Later in the afternoon came craft time, when the children made foam cats, followed by snack time with treats that looked like cats, and jingo, which Thompson described as an educational bingo.

"They love the socialization and they learn from it," Thompson said of the story hours. "We make it so they learn in a fun way -- they don't actually realize that they're learning."

Shannon Clay of Sikeston frequents the story hours with her sons, Jackson, 7, and Spencer, 3.

"It gives us something to do in the summertime and its keeps Jackson up on his reading," Clay said. Following story hour, she takes her sons into the library, where each can pick out two or three books to take home and read.

Jackson is now reading on his own and sometimes reads to his younger brother. His favorite series is "The Magic Tree House."

Attendance at the story hours varies from 30 to 50 kids, fluctuating due to the weather and other activities. The theme of the week has some weight, too, and Thompson is expecting a large crowd at next week's sessions, which will feature the Army Corps of Engineers and snakes.

Spencer and Jackson are looking forward to seeing the snakes next week. Jackson said he is eager because snakes bite and are poisonous, and Spencer because they are green, his favorite color, he said.

Monday's programs are duplicated for third through fifth grades on Tuesdays, with the same activities, just different books being read, Thompson said.

Day cares, parents and grandparents bring the children to story hour. While the adults help chaperone, they also can learn a thing or two.

For instance, children at last week's session met a cat with the tail cut off and learned the tail helps it balance. "A lot of the parents said 'I didn't even know that,'" Thompson recalled.

This week also wraps up the library's "Fine-free Week for Fido and Fluffy," during which it is accepting donations of food and toys for pets.

For each overdue book, bring in a pet toy or food item to have the fine forgiven, but the items may not be used to pay existing fines or for lost books. Books returned must be in usable condition.

Some people have been donating, although they have no fines, Thompson added. "You don't have to have a fine," she said. "You can just bring a donation."