The King County Library System (KCLS) is hosting its annual Season of Stories and Songs. During this time of the year, KCLS hosts various holiday workshops around King County libraries that include stories, art and cooking workshops, music, puppet shows and more.
For musician Nancy Stewart, this is her favorite time of the year. Stewart has been a part of the KCLS’s Season of Stories and Songs since 1996. Her winter concert series is called “A Season for Singing.” Stewart released her recording of winter holiday songs for children in 1996. Since then, Stewart has preformed and shared the different holiday traditions of children around the world in King County libraries.
“For children, it’s one of the most exciting times of the year. In every culture, there is something going on during this time of the year,” said Stewart. “King County is very diverse. Every neighborhood library is very different.”
Stewart shared how before she started her career, she noticed the link between singing and literacy. Every time parents sing with their children, they’re getting them ready to read. With her own children, Stewart noticed the way her young children respond to music and how their language development increased, as well as their interest in literacy.
Her focus is to share the link between music and literacy. Stewart said a library setting is the perfect environment to do so. For her winter concert series, Stewart focuses on sharing the different holiday traditions of children around the world.
“[I was] trying to figure out a way to educate families and children about traditions…[I] was trying to do it in a respectful way and in a way that honors them,” said Stewart. “It’s tricky but that’s where music is so effective. It really can cross all those barriers. Music is the thing that connects everyone.”
Stewart will preform in various libraries throughout King County. She started off the holiday season with a concert in Skykomish on Nov. 16. Families can visit the KCLS website to find Stewart’s upcoming concerts.
During her holiday concert series, families can expect to hear interesting snippets of each holiday tradition. Stewart tries to find a way to invite children to participate in the songs. Children can sing along to their favorite Christmas songs, and songs for Hanukkah, Kwanza and Chinese New Year. Stewart will play songs from her recording, “A Season for Singing” that include songs like “Frosty the Snowman,” “My Dreydl,” “Break The Piñata,” “Oh Tannebaum” and more.
Stewart shared she learns something new every year. She likes adding different songs and using visual props. She created a blue backdrop decorated with Christmas trees decorated with animals and lights. Stewart believes lights and animals are “the somethings” that unite the holiday traditions all over the world.
“We live in a world, especially now where we need to know about each other,” said Stewart. “The more we learn about each other, the more we realize we’re really all the same and that we have so much in common.”
Stewart shared she writes from a third person’s view point. Earlier on, families would approach her to ask if she could write a song about their tradition. Stewart receives various emails and phone calls from mothers who are so grateful to have a song for their children. It means a lot to families to have their holiday traditions shared with everyone.
“It’s the only time of the year that we’re all celebrating something. Every celebration incorporates music,” said Stewart.
Some of the traditions Stewart sings about include one from Norway. She shared how she brings a giant toothbrush to libraries so children can scrub from head to toe. Her song, “Rub A Dub Dub,” sings “In Norway, so far away/All children gettin’ ready for the holiday/Wash fingers and toes, elbows and nose/So when the holiday comes they’re ready to go.” Another fun tradition she sings about is one from England. Stewart shared how bees come out of their hives and sing to the children on Christmas Eve in England. While she sings, “Buzz buzz buzz, hear the buzzing of the bees/Singing little lullabies on Christmas Eve,” participating children wear bumble bee head bands and buzz, “Tinkle Little Star.”
Stewart is passionate about the library system and believes in the importance of singing. She said there is a connection between singing and literacy.
To learn more about Stewart’s library programs and music workshops visit, nancymusic.com or email her at email@example.com.
KCLS will be hosting “A Season for Singing” concerts in 10 libraries throughout King County, starting Nov. 16 through the new year.
KCLS hosts various workshops throughout the holiday season. To find upcoming workshops, visit their event calendar at kcls.org.