RCMP Officer Insp. Gerald Grobmeier read a story to about 70 pre-school children at the Red Deer Public Library’s downtown branch as part of a new program in the children’s department.
“We like to have special guests come in,” said Deb Isbister with children’s services at the library. “It shows the kids that outside the library the community also values literacy. It’s a big example for them to see adults reading not just the librarian reading.”
Grobmeier read, I’m Afraid Your Teddy Is In Trouble Today by Jancee Dunn. The story is about a teddy bear that throws a party while the boy is at school. The teddy calls all of his stuffed animal friends on a cell phone and throws a rowdy party. The neighbours complain and the teddy gets into a little bit of trouble, and the police have to get involved.
The library has regular reading events that are well attended with 30 to 40 children. They had prepared craft supplies for about 50 kids for this event, but had to find extras due to the unexpectedly large turn-out.
Officers have come to the library in the past to highlight community events, but Isbister said it has been a few years.
Isbister had initially envisioned that it would be a one-time visit correlating with Police Week in the spring, but the request was met with enthusiasm from the RCMP. They wanted to do something more, so it became four reading events.
Grobmeier really enjoyed his time reading to the kids and said it was a nice experience for the officers.
“People are not always happy to see a police officer because something bad has generally happened, but these kids are truly enamoured by police officers, so that is a great feeling for us,” he said.
He added that the program also allows the RCMP to build positive relationships in the community and connect with kids.
“More importantly it shows kids that we are just people—you don’t have to be afraid of us. We want them to be comfortable, so if they are ever in need of something they know they can come talk to a police officer, and if they’re ever in trouble or they’re lost, they know that we’re always a safe person they can come to,” he said.
Following the story, kids made a craft related to the book—a paper teddy bear wearing a Mountie hat and carrying a cell phone.
Kids were also excited to have their photo taken with Grobmeier.
There will be a different RCMP officer reading the story at each event.
Additional storytimes will take place March 2nd and 7th for pre-school age kids at 10 a.m. and March 7th at 11 a.m. for kids 18-months to three-years-old.
“We hope to do it again for sure because the RCMP have been so positive about it,” Isbister said.