Dial-A-Story: Marianna Black library revives popular kids’ program

By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer

Christine Tyndall’s voice hits a high note as she reads from the Maurice Sendak classic Where the Wild Things Are, pleading on behalf of the monsters for storybook hero Max not to give up being their king.


“Oh please don’t go,” whines the Marianna Black Youth Service Librarian.

“We’ll eat you up,” she cautions in a gruff voice.

“We love you so,” she says sadly.

“And Max said, ‘No!’”

Then with all the appropriate sound effects and dramatic pauses Tyndall brings to life the book’s signature line.

“The Wild Things roared their terrible roars, and gnashed their terrible teeth, and rolled their terrible eyes, and showed their terrible claws.”

It’s enough to draw a smile, if not an outright giggle, from the listener, which is exactly what Tyndall is aiming for. This story is the Marianna Black Library’s Dial-A-Story line. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week children may call in to hear Miss Christine, as she is affectionately known, read from the Bryson City library’s collection. There’s a new story each week, and the call is free.

The Dial-A-Story program has returned to the library after a long hiatus, mainly for technical reasons said Librarian Jeff Delfield. The program requires a dedicated line, and a storyteller to record a story onto tape, then transfer the story onto a digital system. When a child calls the dedicated phone line the story cues up for a one-on-one session. Only one child may listen at a time.

Delfield said it was called to his attention a few months ago that the Dial-A-Story program was no longer active and that perhaps the library could bring it back.

“Christine was all too happy to start it up,” he said.

Tyndall chose Where the Wild Things Are as the return of the Dial-A-Story’s first book because it’s a personal favorite that has earned a positive response in her weekly story time sessions at the library.

“I am aiming for the same age group that I do for my story time, 3 to 5,” she said.

The program enables children who might not otherwise be able to come to the library, or may not have someone willing to read to them at home, to still get some of the benefits of being read to. Studies have shown that reading aloud helps children develop auditory perception to think about how words sound, enhance their vocabularies, increase attention span and create a desire to read on their own. The learning process is furthered by the human connection, Tyndall said.

“It kind of differs from what most children’s librarians would say. Personally I want to show children that when you hear a story its better to hear it from a person than those little books you get from Wal-Mart,” she said.

Humans can be more expressive than electronics and children shouldn’t be afraid to express themselves, Tyndall said, nothing that she herself is a very expressive reader.

To reach the Marianna Black Library’s Dial-A-Story line, call 828.488.9412. Stories are updated each week.

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