Pajama Party

WED, 1/14

The media has romanticized the kiddie bedtime ritual. In the sitcom world, rosy-cheeked toddlers -- clad in spotless PJs that actually fit -- willingly slide between crisp sheets, lie still while their parents read them a brief story and then quickly drift off to dreamland. There are no squabbles over age-appropriate bedtimes, no lengthy debates about the clinical necessity of brushing one's teeth, and no complaints regarding literary selections.

The good people at the Swallow Hill Music Association have come up with an idea that might bring that cinematic bliss a little closer to reality: Bedtime Songs and Stories, a new program at "Denver's Folk Music Home," begins a year-long series at 6:30 p.m. tonight.

Cindy Wilkinson ("Miss Cindy" to her Swallow Hill charges) will provide each evening's entertainment, which consists of stories and music organized around a theme and geared toward an audience of one- to six-year-olds. The programs will last about 45 minutes.

For the year's first offering, Miss Cindy plans a winter theme. She'll read from Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup With Rice and perform seasonal songs on her mountain dulcimer. She'll also bring along shaker eggs, sticks, bells and slide whistles so the kids can play along.

"There is not a lot of 'Sit and listen,'" she says.

Bedtime Songs and Stories will be held on the second Wednesday of each month at Swallow Hill, 71 East Yale Avenue. The cost is $3 per person or $15 for the entire family -- and PJs are encouraged. Call 303-777-1003 for details. -- Karen Bowers

Use Clues
Douglas County libraries seek young detectives
SAT, 1/10

When I was a kid, the local library once encouraged children to read books by giving them planet stickers. It wasn't much, but it was enough for many eight-year-olds. Douglas County libraries have traveled light-years beyond that hook. Their winter reading program, which runs through January 30, turns young readers into detectives. And today from 1 to 4 p.m., kids can visit the Lone Tree Library, 8827 Lone Tree Parkway, to try to solve the mystery of the missing dog biscuit. Crime-scene photos, clues in invisible ink and instruction on fingerprinting will all be part of the puzzle. Participants who have completed the free program's requisite twelve hours' reading (pre-readers can count read-aloud time) will receive a notebook, magnifying glass and pen to aid in their investigation.

Future detecting sessions will be held at the Miller Library, 100 South Wilcox Street in Castle Rock (January 11); the Parker Library, 19851 South Crossroads Drive (January 17); and the Highlands Ranch Library, 9292 Ridgeline Boulevard (January 24). For information, go to -- Ernie Tucker