Story time has long been a staple of public libraries. In Galloway Township, bilingual children have an opportunity to explore Hispanic culture through a unique story time program called the "Cuentos Funtasticos/

Funtastic Stories Club."

Conducted by members of the Absegami High School Spanish Honor Society, the program is a way for young children to be exposed to the Spanish language and culture while listening to stories read in English and Spanish.

Longtime Absegami language arts teacher Aurora Boyette said the advanced language students have been conducting the bilingual story time program at the library for about the past four years and it has developed a regular following.

The program was created to foster bilingual children's literacy and allow high school students to practice Spanish outside of the classroom, said Boyette, who started Absegami's Spanish Honor Society chapter nine years ago and serves as the club's adviser.

It evolved from a once a year event on April 30 to celebrate "El Dia de los Ninos/El Dia de los Libros" (Day of the Child/Day of the Book) to its current monthly format.

"I do believe that there is a need for bilingual activities in our community," Boyette said. "Our society values the teaching and learning of foreign languages, but we do not always nurture the abilities of bilingual children. As a result, these abilities may be lost or not fully developed."

Holding the program at the library during after-school hours boosts participation from the community, she said.

About a dozen Spanish Honor Society students coordinate the story time program, preparing activities based on monthly cultural or book-oriented themes, Boyette said.

The students read stories, teach bilingual children how to read in Spanish and incorporate games and crafts to reinforce each lesson.

The program, suggested for children ages 6 to 12, is held during the school year in the children's section of the Galloway Township library. Its final session will be April 28.

Boyette said the program's ending date always coincides with the April 30 celebration of "El Dia de los Ninos/El Dia de los Libros." The celebration is based on childhood and literacy that borrows from the traditional Mexican holiday "El Dia de los Ninos."

Contact Lucia C. Drake:

609-272-7295

If you go

What:

Cuentos Funtasticos/Funtastic Stories Club

Where:

Atlantic County Library System/Galloway Township, 306 E. Jimmie Leeds Road

When:

4:30 p.m. April 28

More info:

Free and open to all children. Suggested ages are 6 to 12. Registration is requested. Call 609-652-2352.