January 18, 2017 / Brooklyn news / Clinton Hill / The Greatest Story Ever

Local library storytime is the ‘Hamilton’ of Clinton Hill


The ‘Hamilton’ of Clinton Hill: Local library storytime is the hottest ticket in town!

Brooklyn Paper
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It’s the reading-room where it happens!

Tickets to storytime at the Clinton Hill Library are hotter than even the hottest Broadway show, according to the local parents and nannies who reserve their place online and turn up hours in advance to make sure they’re not throwing away their spots.

“There are parents who come here and say this is worse than getting ‘Hamilton’ tickets,” said librarian Emily Heath — a triple threat who sings, reads, and leads toddler playtime with the effortless stage presence and razzle dazzle of a young Chita Rivera.

Heath’s show-stopping performance of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” has been generating big local buzz since she started working at the Washington Avenue book repository two years ago and she is a big reason behind the storytime’s critical and commercial success, residents say — although an influx of new families to the neighborhood has also boosted demand.

Only 20 golden tickets are available for each of Heath’s tour-de-force performances at 10:15 am and 11:15 am every Tuesday and Friday — the latter is first-come first-served but the earlier session is now so in-demand that the library had to create an online ticketing system a few weeks ago to manage the insatiable crowds.

Just like Hamil-fans, parents have to hover over their computers waiting for the tickets to become available 24 hours before each reading or they’ll miss out, according to one mom.

“You have to be very quick,” said Deonne Duran, who frequents Heath’s storytimes with her 1-year-old Cai. “I try to do it as soon as possible — if I forget in the morning and do it in the evening it’s too late.”

For the 11:15 am sessions, Duran gets to the library at 9:15 am — turning up just a half-hour ahead of time means being turned away at the door, and you can forget about nabbing a good parking spot for your stroller.

Tickets to see Heath in her career-defining role are so sought-after, the library had to institute a one-session-per-week limit for each family, and will give away seats if parents and their infants aren’t in their places by “Once upon a time…”

Of course, there are other storytime sessions at the library that Heath doesn’t star in, but those are about as popular as a Monday matinee of “In Transit.” What? Exactly.

“It’s a little bit less crowded,” said Anna Ray, whose 1-year-old and 3-year-old sometimes have to settle for the less-popular readings — or miss out entirely. “It’s become so crowded, we come every so often now.”

But some young storytime fanatics just can’t go even a week without seeing their leading lady.

“Parents generally have a good sense of humor about it, but some kids will be really disappointed if they miss one week,” said Heath.

“Hamilton” creator Lin Manuel-Miranda did not return a request for comment.

Try your luck at scoring a ticket to Emily Heath’s storytime sessions at the Clinton Hill Library (380 Washington Ave. at Greene Avenue in Clinton Hill, Tuesdays and Fridays at 10:15 am and 11:15 am. Free.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Now with video!
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Reasonable discourse

Dorothy Gill from Florida says:
Your sense of humor shines through, Lauren. Great story, lots of fun. Those lucky children will learn to love books, just as you and I do.
Jan. 18, 2017, 3:01 pm
Amy Orr from Bed Stuy says:
We love Ms. Emily. She has been so generous with providing literary enrichment for our gifted and talented program at Public School 56. It is no surprise, she is this popular. Emily is a librarian with lots of heart.
Jan. 18, 2017, 8:34 pm
Pete and Sammy from Clinton Hill says:
We love seeing Emily on Fridays for story time, it's the best!
Jan. 26, 2017, 10:46 am

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