Mother Goose story time brings Pullman community together

Year-round story telling provides readings of classics, new children’s books


Courtesy of Rachael Ritter

Rachael Ritter reads to young children as Mother Goose twice a week at Neill Public Library.

ANNA MICHALSON, Evergreen reporter

Mother Goose-themed story times are not a new phenomenon. The Neill Public Library in Pullman has been embracing this childhood staple, and is bringing fun and family time back into reading. 

During story time, Rachael Ritter, youth services librarian, said she will lead parents and children in several nursery rhyme songs, accompanied by repetitive movements. 

“We’re doing a lot of repetition because that’s what’s appropriate for this age group. That’s how they learn,” she said. “There’s a lot of clapping and singing, and lots of movement activities.” 

Many classics are read, but Ritter said she also makes a conscious effort to include children’s books recently published, and published by new authors she deems fit for the story time.

“It’s an opportunity for families from birth to two, to come into the library, and get used to it,” said Ritter said. “You meet people who also have really young kids, and just have fun at the library teaching those literacy skills early on.” 

Ritter said story times will continue year-round, as it is a very popular event. On average, there are approximately 20 to 30 families there, which provides a strong, closely-knit community of new parents who can all support one another. 

“I think it’s really important to build community … when you bring your child to the library, you’re telling them how important they value the library, and also reading,” she said. “If we can take the time to share books, share different perspectives, or different voices, you’re going to benefit your kids. It reinforces those reading skills at a young age.” 

Youth services technician Amy Ferguson said she is currently training to become another Mother Goose for story times and is excited to help make an impact on young children’s lives. 

Ferguson also said she wanted to begin training for the role of Mother Goose so she could serve as a backup storyteller for Ritter. She wants to ensure that story times remain as consistent as possible, for the sake of Pullman’s youngest community members.

“[The most exciting part] is being able to watch the connections between different families and parents with their own children, but also just the community building between the parents themselves,” Ferguson said. 

Originally, Ferguson said she gravitated more toward the teen population, but has gained a newfound love and appreciation for young children, and admires the experience and devotion Ritter has given to them.

If you want to participate in story time and hear some of the songs from your own childhood, like ‘itsy bitsy spider’, or ‘wheels on the bus’, Ritter said she encourages all families to join in at least once. 

Mother Goose story times are on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week, from 10:15 to 10:45 a.m., Ritter said.