Berks County Public Libraries

Berks County Public Libraries

(est.1986) coordinates services offered by the independent participating public libraries in Berks County. By sharing our collections, by consolidating our purchasing, cataloging and processing, and by creating cooperative services like the Storyriders and the Summer Reading Program, the libraries of BCPL are able to give to our communities well-run, dynamic libraries in the most efficient and cost-effective way.


Who Are the Storyriders?

Storyriders are preschool program specialists who come to your local library and selected daycare centers to perform preschool story hours. They engage the youngest patrons and their caregivers in a unique public library outreach. The three Storyriders are part-time professionals with backgrounds including early childhood education, storytelling and library work.

This service is provided countywide through the BCPL system headquarters.

What Do Storyriders Do?

Storyriders make libraries fun! In libraries all over Berks County, Storyriders get preschoolers excited about literature by conducting interactive storytimes. Programs include stories and songs, games and giggles, a simple craft and lots of good times.

Storyriders are conspicuous. You can easily spot or hear one in the library. She is the one wearing the silly socks or blowing bubbles or shaking "shakey eggs." Talking with a puppet, jumping through hoops or leading fun fingerplays is all part of her repertoire.

The Storyrider 's bag is full of goodies to engage the children and their caregivers in the love of language and literature. The bag may include:

  • Scarves, hoops, beanbags, crafts
  • Large bright colorful books, flannelgraph and draw-n-tell stories.
  • CDs, song sheets, shakey eggs
  • Puppets, costumes, and bubbles

What Happens at a Storytime?

Anything can happen at a storytime. Storytimes vary according to a child's age. In general, infants will have a shorter time which incorporates more repetitive songs, rhymes and gentle actions done with the caregiver. As age increases, so does the storytime length and the use of stories, books and action rhymes for the child to learn.

The target audiences for these storytimes are age and developmental stage specific:

  • Infants/ Prewalkers (baby lapsits)
  • Toddlers/ Walkers (12 mos. - 3 years)
  • Older preschoolers (3-5 years)

Meet the Berks County Storyriders

Denise Curran comes from an elementary teaching background. She is an active library board member and public education advocate. The secret to her boundless energy is chocolate! Miss Denise has been a Storyrider since February 2002.

Barbara Hughes is a former elementary and preschool teacher. She is a member in good standing of the Reading Choral Society. She owns a kitty that likes to ride a kitchen chair like a race car. Miss Barbara has been a Storyrider since February 2002.

Joy Newswanger is a storyteller, writer and creative communicator. She has practically lived in libraries all her life because she LOVES books. Her husband is worried that her collection of children's books may overtake the house someday. Miss Joy has been a Storyrider since January 2003.

Where and When Can I see the Storyriders?

Starting the week of January 11, 2011, Berks StoryRiders can be found in the following Berks County Public Libraries. Please contact the libraries for specific schedule and age of intended audience. The six-week summer StoryRider schedules are available in these libraries.


Schuylkill Valley


Spring Township



Reading - NE


Come join us for stories, songs, fingerplays and, of course, a craft! This fall we'll be teaching the youngest patrons important early literacy skills using the following themes:

To the Moon! • Rhyming With the Animals • Chickens Cluck • Snowy Days • Polar Bear Pranks • Who Says Who? • Really Red Days • It's In the Mail! • Only Opposites • Big Enough • Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere • From Caterpillar to Butterfly • Going to the Zoo • On the Farm • Beautiful Birds • Cowboys • Totally Three • Going on an Airplane

What are Library Patrons Saying about Storyriders?

Three year old Owen proclaimed, "Storytime is here!" as Miss Joy walked into the library recently.

"Now it's time to eat jello. NO, NO, NO. Now it's time to wear yellow. NO, NO, NO. Now it's time to be mellow. Oh no, Miss Joy just can't remember how to start storyhour. I know it rhymes with yellow and mellow and jello". Three-year-old Christopher raised his hand. "Now it's time to sing HELLO," he melodically started the rhyming story hour.

Twenty-two-month old Maylynn, hummed the tune to "Baby Shark" with corresponding hand and arm gestures that she learned in Storyrider summer storytime on a recent visit to the Adventure Aquarium, her Grandmother reported.

During a recent "Blue" theme, Miss Denise looked out at her young library patron audience as they sang "I spy blue, I spy blue, yes I do, you can too. I spy blue jeans, I spy blue shirt, I spy blue scarf and blue shoes too …" She made a fun discovery. All six of her preschoolers were wearing something blue. The "blue" group looked especially distinguished after making the perfect matching accessory - blue party masks.

Recently, a repetitive, predictable story used by the Storyriders included many animals including a pink flamingo. The following are a few of the precious pronunciations heard by Miss Barbara as the preschoolers repeated the list of animal characters. "Flawingo". "Falingo". "Flingo".

"Now can we read a story?" a three and one-half year old patron asked Miss Barb repeatedly during the opening "Hello" song. What a joy to hear that question. Sometimes the greatest perks of this job come unexpectedly. Priceless treasures: having an autistic preschooler make eye contact with you; finding a trilingual three-year-old (Portuguese, Indian, English) who translates your questions; seeing incognito preschool celebrities dressed in sunglasses throughout your storyhour. At the end of storyhours many things are shared between Storyrider and preschooler – high-fives, hugs, prized artwork, hand written notes and stories, just picked wild flowers and sometimes even a few half-eaten gummy bears.