Children’s librarian Sara Groves plays UNO with Avery Tolefree, 7, at the Lewiston Public Library on Friday. Tolefree visits the library almost daily. “That’s his favorite part of the day. Coming to see Sara,” said Tolefree’s mother, Aphtyn Chattick. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — A few weeks ago, a 6-year-old approached Sara Groves needing help.

“(She) was all jazzed up about the Titanic,” Groves said. “They wanted to try to build something like the Titanic but also wanted to read about the Titanic, wanted to know where the Titanic books were.”

Groves pulled all the books she could find onto the floor and they flipped through them together.

Another time, a child brought over a picture book and “we spent the next 15 minutes doing the yoga poses together,” she said. “I just love that you really never know what the next thing is going to be.”

Groves became Lewiston Public Library’s new children’s librarian last month, taking over from David Moorhead, who spent 20 years in the role.

She had just started at the library as a technician when Moorhead announced his retirement. She spent last year in the library of a South Portland elementary school.


“As soon as I walked into this place, the place is fantastic,” Groves said. “I was hooked by the space and the people here and I’m kind of continuing to be hooked by the broader community the more time that I’ve spent here.”

She grew up in Brooksville and started volunteering at her local library before she was even 10. Her first job was reshelving books at the Blue Hill Public Library.

“I was home-schooled so we spent a ton of time at the library,” Groves said. “It was always a little bit mysterious, it was kind of maze-like almost where there was something new around every corner and in every stack. There was kind of a thrill to go and that became balanced by the familiarity of knowing exactly which sections I liked to go to, knowing the people there, the librarians and the other kids.”

In Lewiston, the children’s section is targeted to those from birth to 12. When they come in asking for specific chapter books, she lives to recommend something nonfiction, too, that might compliment it. A book about animals or parks.

Groves said she also loves wordless picture books, like Lizi Boyd’s “Flashlight.”

“These are like the ultimate guide to slowing down and paying attention,” she said. “You come up with your own stories. I find often when I read picture books, I’m not even looking at the illustrations, you’re trying to skim through and read through a pile of books. With these you just have to slow down and look at everything. People often give me a funny look, and I’m like, ‘Just try it, they are so fun.'”

Since getting the new job, Groves has started a new monthly Saturday story time with guest readers, a monthly family book club — next up is “The Dollmaker of Krakow” by R.M. Romero and they’re Skyping with Romero on Nov. 30 — and a new weekly Lego Club.

Her days are spent sitting in on story times, working on displays or organizing, reading reviews, looking at books to order and being available for the kids.

“A big one we hear is ‘Where’s the unicorn books?'” she said. “I think it’s so important for kids to choose their own books; I hear a lot of adults say to children, ‘Don’t get that, you can’t read that.’ There’s more to a book experience than reading – seeing, feeling, choosing, holding, even smelling! If a child chooses a book that they’re not able to read on their own, that’s OK. I guarantee they are getting something positive out of the experience.”

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