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Storytelling, other activities to be offered in Spanish in outreach program

Melissa Mitchell, News Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Storytelling, live music, sing-alongs and other activities for children – presented in Spanish – will be featured twice monthly beginning in October as part of a library-based community-outreach program organized by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“Spanish Time,” for children ages 4 to 9, is free and open to the public. The program is co-sponsored by the U. of I.’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Champaign Public Library and Urbana Free Library.

In Urbana, activities planned this fall will be held on the second Saturday of the month (Oct. 14, Nov. 11 and Dec. 9) at 2 p.m. in the children’s department of the library, 210 W. Green St.

In Champaign, the event will be offered on the third Saturday of the month (Oct. 21, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16) at 10:30 a.m. in the meeting room at the Douglass Branch Library, 504 E. Grove St.

The theme for the first program will be “Day of the Dead” (or “Dia de los Muertos”). The event will introduce children to the customs and traditions associated with the festive Latin American holiday in which family members honor their ancestors.

According to Renata Johnson, outreach coordinator for the U. of I. center, the program was developed to fill a need for more Spanish-language programs outside the classroom.

“With the growth of Hispanic populations, there is a strong desire in this community to reach out to Spanish-speaking families,” Johnson said. “We also hope that non-Hispanic families come to this program because in a globalized world it is very important to encourage children to become bilingual or even multilingual.”

The programs will be presented by storytellers Ashley Mazzola and Kelley Sheehan, U. of I. Spanish majors who studied in Barcelona, Spain, last year and participated in a community-based language-learning course taught by Spanish professor Ann Abbott. In addition, local musicians William Hope, and Adriana Cuervo and Luis Eduardo Herrera will perform Latin American songs on alternate program dates.

For more information, contact Johnson at 217-244-2790 or at At Champaign’s Douglass Branch, contact children’s librarian Amanda Raklovits,; and at the Urbana Free Library, Barb Lintner, director of children’s services,