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Destination: Mr. Erik's rocking storytime at Cameron Village Regional Library

Posted January 2, 2014

If Erik Sugg went back in time to tell his 19-year-old self exactly what he'd be doing two decades later - rocking out most weekday mornings with toddlers - Sugg says that young guy would probably be pretty amused. 

After all, between then and now, Sugg has worked a world away from the storytime room at Cameron Village Regional Library.

He's spent years as a local musician, singing, playing and writing songs for adult bands. There are stints as a touring musician and as the merchandise guy on tour with actress Juliette Lewis and her band. And then there is the time in the library stacks. He's worked as a reference librarian for adults in academic libraries and then the Wake County library system, first Cameron Village then West Regional in Cary.

His library and music careers came together back in 2011 when he took the opportunity to return to Cameron Village library but, this time, in the children's department. The job included leading some of the library's popular storytimes. Sugg was happy to try it, especially if he could write his own music for the half-hour sessions. Erik Sugg at Cameron Village Regional Library Destination: Mr. Erik's rocking storytime at Cameron Village Regional Library

"It was a now or never situation," Sugg remembers about that first storytime as toddlers and their caregivers took a seat on the floor. "I ended up being in a room full of dancing kids. Next thing I knew, I had families asking when the guy with the guitar was performing."

Sugg's storytimes include his own music, along with twists on traditional kid songs. He might mix it up by taking a classic kids song and making it sound like the Ramones, for instance. And it's not all dancing and singing at his storytimes. His sessions also include the usual stories, flannel board games and letter identification that are core to Wake's storytimes.

On Thursday morning, kids bounced along as he sang songs, including a rocking version of "Down by the Bay." And then they jumped again during a high-energy reading of one book. 

Writing music for kids isn't that much different than writing for adults, he tells me. Mr. Erik at Cameron Village Regional Library Mr. Erik leads kids in song at Cameron Village Regional Library's toddler storytime

"If I like it and it makes me want to jump around and goof off, the kids are probably going to like it," he said.

And he's a natural with the kids, sitting down on the ground as they crowd around him and wait for him to stamp their hands at the end. 

"Kids can recognize their own," he said. "They know the big kid when they spot him."

Sugg's storytimes have been so popular that parents have asked him if he worked birthday parties and children's events. When Sugg realized all they expected was a version of his storytime at their home, he starting offering it as a side business.

Now he's working on a children's album, which he hopes will be released in fall 2014. (He's working on an adult album with his band Demon Eye, which will be released later this month).

"It's just one of those happy accidents where I ended up doing what I should have been doing all along," he tells me.

Sugg said he's been amazed by the response from the community. And he's found working with kids extremely rewarding.

"This kind of keeps me honest in wanting to bring some good in the world as cheesy as that sounds," he said. "Making kids happy definitely keeps you honest." 

Sugg is usually the one leading the baby and toddler storytimes at the Cameron Village Regional Library. The winter session runs Jan. 2 to March 31. Baby storytimes are 11 a.m., Mondays, 1:30 p.m., Wednesdays and 10:30 a.m., Saturdays. Toddler storytimes are 10 a.m., Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m., Thursdays; and 10:30 a.m., Fridays. 

Cameron Village also has some great storytimes for preschoolers run by Ms. Jane. My younger daughter moved up to Ms. Jane's storytimes about 18 months ago and we have really enjoyed them (and will be working our schedule around so we can get back there again regularly). Preschool storytimes are 11 a.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 1:30 p.m., Thursdays; and 11:30 a.m., Fridays.

Family storytimes are 11:30 a.m., Saturdays.

If you're looking specifically for a Mr. Erik storytime, he does all of the toddler storytimes except the 10 a.m., Wednesday, session. He leads the 11 a.m., Monday, and 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, baby storytimes. The staff rotates duties on Saturdays when baby and family storytimes are scheduled. Sugg will lead the Saturday storytimes on Jan. 18, Feb. 8, March 1 and March 22.

Of  course, Wake County's other libraries offer regular storytimes. Click here to learn more about what the library offers near you.

For more about Sugg, watch my video interview with him, watch him sing one of his songs and check out his website.

Go Ask Mom features places to take kids every Friday. For more ideas, check our posts on park and playground reviews and Triangle family destinations.

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  • babbleon Jan 3, 2014

    All of the storytimes are fun and worth visiting, but I admit that my husband and I used to lure my son in with, 'Mr. Erik might be there!'