At 10 a.m. every Wednesday Robert F. Sink Memorial Library, 38 Screaming Eagle Blvd., hosts Baby and Me Lapsit where children and parents are invited to meet other children, dance, sing nursery rhymes and read fun stories.

Baby and Me Lapsit is designed with the library’s youngest patrons in mind. It is an introduction to books, play, songs and socializing for children ages 3 and younger.

“The program is to get children out of the home and socialize them with other children,” said Joe Farrar, the library children’s program manager. “We want to get parents who have been cooped up in their homes for the last couple of years out to meet other parents with children who are the same age.”

When the program first started, participation was lacking. Through trial and error, the program has evolved and is becoming more active with an average of 50 participants each week.

“This program takes place no matter the weather,” Farrar said. “The parents come back every week with their children. They love it.”

Sometimes the event features the library technicians leading song and dance while other times, the parents read to the children, he said. The motivation is the same every time: strengthening social and literacy skills early in development.

“Literacy is one of the most foundational skills we can have in our society, and it starts early. Exposure to it starts early with story time, songs, and repetitive rhyme,” said Sara Hill, library technician. “The earlier and more exposure a kid gets, the more likely it is going to stick.”

With stuffed animals in hand and smiles on their faces, children rushed to find a seat on the colorful blankets while staff handed out Maraca eggs for shaking and music making. For most of the children, this was not their first time at the Lapsit, many have been attending since they were newborns.

Veronica Chavarria, Army spouse, has been bringing her 15-month-old baby, Kyler, to the program every week since he was 3 months old. As an only child, Chavarria feels this program has helped Kyler with his social skills with other babies. As a mom, Chavarria said participating in the program has helped her mingle with other parents.

“I have made a lot of friends with the moms and the leaders. Everyone is really friendly,” she said. “This is the most amazing program.”.”

Baby and Me Lapsit started with a joyous greeting where all the children and parents sang a song to acknowledge the other children by name. Following the musical hellos, Farrar, lovingly known as “Mr. Joe” and Hill led the children through a montage of songs including “The Hokey Pokey” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”

“My favorite part is the welcome song,” Farrar said. “I practically know almost every single child here. I get to go around the room and literally see each child. When I say their name, most of them are looking right back at me.”

After singing, Hill read colorful books to the children. The interest from the stories was visible on the children’s faces, and the joy was infectious to all in the room.

“I love seeing the kids excited,” Hill said. “They love getting into the Maraca eggs. They love singing and dancing.”

Smiles and laughs were evident everywhere – not only from children, but also from the parents and program leaders. Children played with one another while parents enjoyed conversations with each other.

“This program gives children a chance to interact with other children before they go to preschool,” Farrar said. “When children first come here, they’re usually pretty shy and clinging to their parents. By the time they stop coming, their shyness is gone, and they’re way more talkative.”

For more information about Baby and Me Lapsit and other programming, call the Robert F. Sink Memorial Library at 270-798-5729.