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PHOTO CAPTION:  Van Noy Library story teller, Cynthia McGuire, volunteers her time by reading children's books and entertaining children in the local Fort Belvoir community, Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

July 12, 2013
By Justin Creech, Belvoir Eagle

Children's books are entertaining enough with their stories about curious monkeys, fearless tank engines and imaginary worlds. Adding a storyteller with creative costumes and puppets and the experience is enhanced that much more.
This is what Cynthia McGuire, storyteller at Van Noy Library has done on Wednesday and Thursday mornings for the last month during the library's "story hour."
"I like to play with puppets," said McGuire. "It gives me a creative outlet and it's challenging. I like the challenge of making a story more tangible for children."
Each week has a different theme McGuire emphasizes. Last week, it was traveling, so McGuire read books about planes, trains and boats and wore a sailor's hat and jacket. She also used a hand puppet similarly dressed to further illustrate the week's theme.
While reading about traveling on boats, McGuire and the children acted out pulling up an anchor to set sail at the beginning of the story.
"All the children helped pull up the anchor before we could set sail," said McGuire. "The seas got rough during the story, so we had to abandon ship. I try to read the story but act it out a little bit."
McGuire picks different themes and wears costumes to emphasize the places books can take the mind.
"You can learn about other places in the world in books and learn about silly things that happen in other parts of the country," said McGuire. "You can go to the moon while you're reading. We can get to know animals by reading. So, I'm trying to make it where reading is the adventure and try to get the children involved in the story."
The costumes and different themes McGuire presents to the children is pleasing for Tomoko Burgos, River Village resident. Burgos brings her three year old son, Mario, to story hour so he can get some education and interaction with other children his age.
"I like that she dresses up in the costumes, because he doesn't get bored," said Burgos. "If she just sat and read he would get bored. She puts music on, too, and they dance and sing."
The time at "story hour" has allowed Burgos to make some new friends, she said.
"When I first got here, I didn't go anywhere because I didn't know anyone," said Burgos. "But I heard about the story hour and thought this is a good chance to get out of the house and meet some new people."
Other themes McGuire has covered during "story hour" are camels in the desert and packing a suitcase before traveling. Opening the children's minds is what McGuire tries to accomplish by introducing the different themes.
"We were going on a trip, so the point is when you go on a trip, you have to pack items to take with you," said McGuire. "Seeing things in a different way is beneficial because it lets the children explore more subjects."
McGuire has done puppet ministry at military installations for years because her husband has spent the last three decades on active-duty in the Army. This is her first time working in a library setting, but so far she's enjoying the experience and getting a positive response from the children she's reading to.
"No one has run off or got scared," said McGuire. "It's hard to keep children under the age of five's attention for a long period of time. So, I usually read a story, do some stretching or sing a song, go back and read another story."
Using her imagination to bring a story to life is one reason McGuire continues to read and act out books to children after all these years.
"I'm a big child," said McGuire. "I like showing children how interesting books can be because every book has a story to tell."