*** Published: March 17, 2009 in the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier. ***
ABINGDON, VA -- More than 40 kids danced -- even ran -- in the Washington County Library on Monday [March 16, 2009], but no one told them to stop.
In fact, the adults encouraged them to burn off their bedtime energy by dancing with imaginary furniture.
"The dishes and chairs started dancing. It was total mayhem," said Nick Piper, a Barter Theatre actor who got the kids on their feet while reading the book, So Sleepy Story.
At the library that night, Barter Theatre celebrated the Big Read, a community-wide event that encourages reading and enthusiasm about books, with an activity called "Bedtime with Barter."
Barter actors and others wore pajamas and encouraged kids to do the same as they entertained them with books and songs.
"It's live, it's real people. It's not plastic or audio or video ... it's people in a room together telling stories," said Evalyn Baron, director of outreach for Barter and coordinator of the Big Read. "I think the more people we get to the library for any reason, the better."
Actress Wendy Piper, who organized the pajama event, said it's important for children to develop a love of reading at an early age.
"We live down the street, so we couldn't miss it," said Gina Mittag, who donned polka-dot pajamas and took her children Sam, 4, and Emma, 1. "What better excuse to put on pajamas in public?"