Debbie Heinze is something of a celebrity at Celina Public Library.
For nearly two years, the Light Farms resident has donned fanciful dresses and wide-brimmed straw sunhats while portraying Mother Goose during the library’s weekly story time events.
Geared toward infants through elementary school-aged kids, the 20-minute story time sessions are held at 10:30 a.m. Fridays and are usually attended by more than a dozen youngsters and their grownups.
Gathered in the library’s children’s area, they wiggle and giggle as Heinze reads aloud from simple books and leads the groups in silly songs and movement activities.
“We wanted to do something that would grab the kids’ (attention) instead of just having a nice, little old lady reading stories,” recalled Heinze, 68, of early discussions she had with Linda Shaw, director of library services for the City of Celina, about starting the story time with Mother Goose program.
Heinze explained that most weeks, “We sing a few songs first and relax the kids, and kind of get them into it. Then I read a couple of books, and we do fun dancing and (act) a little crazy.”
The stories and songs are themed around the seasons of the year and national holidays, among other whimsical topics. For example, each December she swaps her Mother Goose garb for Mrs. Claus attire and reads Christmas tales.
Following story time each week, attendees are invited to make a simple craft that corresponds with the stories that Mother Goose has read that day.
Heinze “is a fun person and that comes across in her story times,” Shaw said. “She’s got an upbeat attitude and she knows what she’s doing.”
A former longtime resident of Houston, Heinze moved four years ago to Celina with her husband, Bob, to be closer to the couple’s two adult daughters and five grandchildren.
She also volunteers on Celina Public Library’s advisory board, and is an active member at Prestonwood Baptist Church’s North Campus in Prosper where she sings in the adult choir and teaches kindergarten choir. “All that I do with children, I give the glory to God for opening the door to allow me to use my gifts for Him,” she said.
Heinze began playing piano as a young girl and took up singing as a preteen in her school and church choirs.
In the early 1970s, she played keyboards and sang harmonies in a band fronted by her brother, who was a drummer. The duo performed at officers’ clubs at military bases near their hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, as well as area hotel lounges and other small venues.
Heinze went on to spend the bulk of her nearly 30-year career as an early childhood educator teaching music and movement to preschoolers. In fact, she culls most of the stories and songs for Celina Public Library’s story time from her former lesson plans.
“I try to keep it fresh but simple, so it’s easy. I want it to be fun,” she explained.
She totes with her to story time small music makers, such as rhythm sticks and egg-shaped shakers, as well as colorful beanbags, scarves, streamers and a large canvas parachute with which she and the children play.
More than being fun, she said, story time is also educational.
“Besides learning vocabulary, the main thing is that the kids are interacting with an adult as a teacher (figure) and learning to follow directions,” Heinze explained. “These are important skills that they’re going to need when they get into school.”
Original article published by The Celina Record | Staff Writer Lisa Ferguson | February 17, 2018 | Original link here