Branch Out

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Ashley Atkinson
Editor, Branch Out

Our Library, Our Stories: Stella Samereie

Our Library, Our Stories: Stella Samereie

By Ashley Atkinson, Marketing and Communications Specialist

Learn about the many facets and faces of FCPL and our community — one story at a time.

In Branch Out’s “Our Library, Our Stories” section, we spotlight one person’s story about life and the library in each issue with the hope that it helps us all get to know and connect with each other just a little bit better. Our latest story comes to us from Stella Samereie, a storytime volunteer at Oakton Library.

At just 17 years old, you wouldn’t expect Stella Samereie to want to spend the summer before her senior year at the library, but that is exactly where you would have found her. For two years, Stella has hosted a weekly storytime at Fairfax County Public Library’s (FCPL) Oakton branch and has attracted fans of all ages with her lively storytelling and interactive programs.

Stella’s journey with FCPL began with noble intentions. “I wanted to find a volunteer opportunity which incorporated things that I felt passionate about,” she said. “Because of my love for storytelling and books, and a want to foster a love of reading to children, I went to the Oakton Library and pitched my idea for a weekly storytime.” Oakton’s Assistant Branch Manager Amery Stapleton quickly agreed and soon, Stories with Stella was born

Like with any storytime, a lot of planning goes into Stella’s Tuesday morning programs. She spends the week reading and researching junior picture books. She likes to pick books with lively characters, saying that it gives her the chance to “showcase some of my acting skills to enhance the storytelling experience.” After choosing a book, Stella prepares a craft related to the stories that children can assemble and take home. It may seem like a lot of work to you and me, but for Stella it is all worth it.

“I love when the children interact during my story readings,” she says. “Hearing their giggles and laughs brings me a lot of joy... Especially at craft time, they come running up to me to show their finished product. Seeing that genuine look of happiness and pride on their faces is the greatest gift.”

Other moments that have really stood out for Stella don’t involve the children at all. Many parents, nannies and even grandparents have told her how much they enjoy her programs. One time a group of three elderly women attended the program without a child. Stella says that throughout her program they did not seem to show much emotion, but following the event, they let her know that she had been recommended by one of the women’s daughter and grandchild and that she “did not disappoint.”

When she is not entertaining children and their families with her programs, Stella is completing her senior year at James Madison High School in Vienna. Like many teenagers, she enjoys listening to music, hanging out with her friends, skateboarding and drawing. Like many a library lover, she also finds enjoyment in reading, creative writing and volunteering in the community – Stella is also a member of Oakton Library’s Teen Advisory Board (TAB).

Unsurprisingly, Stella’s future aspirations include becoming a published author of books for children and young adults. She is already working on her first YA fiction novel and has started brainstorming her first children’s book as well. With any luck, one of Stella’s future visits to the library will be to perform a storytime with her own book.

When asked if she had anything else she would like us to mention, Stella stressed how this journey would not have been possible without the help and support of the Oakton staff. She especially wants to thank Stapleton, as well as Anita Toth, Oakton’s Youth Services Manager, for their continued support.

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