I love saying “We have a monthly story time for the local chapter of the National Organization of Stay at Home Dads.” It sounds so cool when you say it out loud, and people’s faces just light up when they hear it. It is cool, for so many reasons, not the least of which parents who are fully engaged in the childhood of their sons and daughters.  They are a delight to work with.  Librarians who specialize in youth services dream of such a group.

I’ve never written a blog entry.  I was asked to write about our story times but I find myself wanting to write a report for a reader who has no idea how unique this library is, and therefore doesn’t know just how cool these story times can be. I want to give them a description of the Banking District of Kansas City back in its day, talk about the building’s history. Many visitors don’t realize this building was a thriving bank for nearly 100 years. The grandeur of the architecture is befitting an  institution as noble as a library so no one questions it.

That is, unless they go to the vault.

THE vault.  With a solid door of more than 35 tons of steel and concrete embedded in the foundation of this 5 story building. Clear Plexiglas now covers the door so you can see how the gears worked.  Thanks to the generosity of AMC, the vault is a delightful movie theater perfect for a small group of Stay at Home Dads and their kids to enjoy a private viewing. Relax about with the kids! Talk across the darkness to your neighbor! Relax!

Afterwards, the elevator to the roof! On the roof is a terrace with a giant chess set and a view of the downtown sky scrapers to thrill kids young and old alike. You can watch the bus terminals at 10th and Main! The parking garage across the street has a glass elevator! On the Dad’s  first visit,  the group brought their lunches, and the weather was beautiful for a picnic.

I think it was intended to be just another field trip. But, as a librarian who specializes in youth services I had other ideas.  Monthly story times! Crafts! Paper Airplane contest over Kirk Hall! Experiments you can do in your kitchen! It was my hope to have a consistent program mostly just to have fun with the children and books and all of the other things children’s librarians do to enhance young brains and lend support to those who love them most. A Captive Audience!

I think the dads were concerned about another monthly commitment (these guys are very active), and were maybe not sure what they could possibly DO here month after month. Well, the vault and the roof are pretty cool, especially if you are 2 years old. As long as I pick a good video, that is!

In the beginning, getting them to the second floor for stories and songs was a bit more of a challenge.

I think the idea of being read aloud to by another adult was somehow uncomfortable for them. And let’s face it, singing silly songs in front of each other is just hokey. Also, I think they were concerned that the kids wouldn’t know how to behave, or wouldn’t learn what was expected of them in such a formal setting.

But good books took care of all that. Pillows on the floor, no criss-cross apple sauce for tight hamstrings, you can stretch out and listen to a great story with your child and relax. The beauty of this space is that when a little one needs to wander off from the group, he or she has somewhere to go and dad can be there and have something engaging to do. The others just ignore any background noise. As long as you’ve got good books in a great place you can have a wonderful time!