The Wednesday morning preschool story group at the Appleby branch library had a special guest before Christmas.
Santa Claus (James Hawkins) treated the children to How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Night Before Christmas.
"I enjoy doing story times," said Mr. Hawkins, who added that he loves to watch the expressions on the children's faces as he reads to them.
Area libraries and bookstores offer dozens of story-time gatherings each week. The programs are designed to instill in children a love of reading.
"If you can teach kids to love books and music, they will always have a friend," said Lynn Litchenfels, community relations coordinator at Borders Books and Music. "A book is a present you give again and again."
The store on Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway has a children's activity at 1 p.m. each Saturday. Sometimes Ms. Litchenfels reads a book to the children; at other times, the children make a craft.
In January, Raymond Briggs' The Snowman series of books will be featured in story and activity times.
The store is also the site of a teen-age reading/discussion group. Recently, teens took an in-depth look at Sean Covey's book Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens.
Most branches of the East Central Georgia Regional Library System offer story times for toddlers and children ages 3-5. At Appleby branch library, most of the children who attend story time are regulars.
"They love it," said Ellen Pruitt, who brings her 2-year-old daughter, Julia, to the toddler story time on Wednesdays at 10:05 a.m. "They love Mrs. (Nancy) Morrison," who reads to them each week.
The preschoolers meet at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays.
Betty Jenkins or Kathy Crosson usually reads a story, and then the children make a craft related to it.
"I enjoy watching the children grow," said Ms. Jenkins.
Here are the weekly schedules for story times at some area libraries and bookstores. Monday events will not be held this week because they fall on New Year's Day.
Appleby Branch, 2260 Walton Way: Toddler Time, 10:05 to 10:25 a.m. Wednesday; story time for children 3 and older, 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. and 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Friedman Branch, 1447 Jackson Road: Toddler Time, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday; preschool story time (ages 3-5) 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Jeff Maxwell Branch, 1927 Lumpkin Road Story time for ages 3-5, 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Wallace Branch, 1237 Laney-Walker Blvd. All ages 10:30 a.m. Monday and Wednesday.
The main office of the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library, 902 Greene St.: Closed for renovations.
Gibbs Library, 326 N. Belair Road, Evans: Twodler Time (ages 24-35 months, 10:15 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; preschool story time (ages 3-5) 11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and 2 p.m. Wednesday; after-school family story time (for parents and children of all ages) 4 p.m. Thursday. Registration is required, call 863-1946.
Euchee Creek Library, 5907 Euchee Creek Drive, Grovetown, Ga.: 10:30 a.m. Wednesday for all ages.
Harlem Library 4 p.m. Thursday.
Burke County Library, Fourth Street, Waynesboro, Ga.: Preschool story time 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
Sardis Branch, Sardis, Ga.: 3:30 p.m. Friday
Midville Branch, Midville, Ga.: 4 p.m. Friday.
Warren County Library, 101 Warren St., Warrenton: 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Nancy Carson Library, 135 Edgefield Road, North Augusta: Story time for children 2 and younger, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday; children 3-5, 11:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Borders Books and Music, 257 Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway: 1 p.m. Saturday, story and/or activity time.
Zany Brainy, 267 Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway: 10:30 a.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; story and/or activity time.