Clayton County firefighter Antonio Merkerson reads to about 30 preschool and kindergarten students Friday at Jonesboro Library. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)
JONESBORO — Clayton County firefighter Antonio Merkerson picked up a book about a pig who also happens to be a firefighter and pointed to the illustrations.
“Which is the most important part of this picture?” he asked about 30 preschool and kindergartners Friday morning.
“The hat?” asked one.
“No, the truck,” offered another.
Merkerson looked at them seriously and told them they were wrong. They looked puzzled. Surely, a hat and truck are important to a firefighter?
“The most important part of this picture is the sandwich,” he said, confirming the adage that firefighters run on food.
Merkerson and three others helped kick off a fall series of “story time at the library” featuring Clayton County firefighters.
The children were well-entertained as Merkerson provided sound effects and asked questions as he read several fire-related storybooks at Jonesboro Branch Library.
“Who would climb this ladder?” he asked, pointing to an extension ladder reaching into the sky.
Nearly all the children raised their hands, eager to prove their bravery.
“Who’s afraid of the dark?” he asked.
“Not me,” several children yelled out.
When Merkerson told them that he is afraid of the dark, he was reassured.
“There’s nothing in the dark that isn’t in the light,” said a child.
Librarian Jennifer Pelt said she was satisfied with the turnout for the first event.
“This has been great and the response from the kids is just wonderful,” she said. “It’s great to see the kids so excited.”
Pelt said the series emphasizes community involvement and children love firefighters and fire trucks so it was a perfect partnership.
“They’ve all been great with the kids,” she said. “They’re very entertaining.”
After story time and a song, the kids went outside to inspect a fire truck — with an extension ladder — and fire gear.
The next story time is Sept. 27 at 10:30 a.m. at Morrow Branch Library, followed by Oct. 18 at 10 a.m. at Riverdale, Oct. 23 at 10:30 a.m. at Lovejoy, Nov. 6 at 10:30 a.m. at headquarters on Battle Creek Road in Jonesboro and Nov. 14 at 10:30 a.m. at Forest Park.
The events are for kids age 3-10. Groups are welcome but must register in advance because of space limitations. To register, patrons should contact the library they want to visit.