Sno-Isle Libraries Rock

Monroe branch fires up band for educational children’s concert

Kelly Sullivan

Phil Spirito came out of his retirement as a musician for a special performance during the Sno-Isle Libraries’ Libraries Rock Kids Explore Summer program.

The Monroe Public Library’s managing librarian touched on some serious topics, such as the environmental impacts of cars, eating well and the importance of apologizing for hurting a friend in songs like “We Love Cars,” “I Like Salads” and “Hey Giant Squid.” He and his band, which included his wife, Libby Reed, the couple’s farmhand Patrick Lehr and library employee Larry Norgaard played  original compositions and covers for a captivated audience on Friday morning.

“Great dancing!” Spirito would shout to the most rowdy of the bunch.

He started the show off with a presentation about the role of librarians, and supplemented the hour-long set with intriguing tidbits. Kids learned the world’s first box was made nearly 2,000 years ago, and there around 200 species of owls; the birds can be found all over Washington.

“Owls, because their feathers are so soft, you don’t hear them when they flap their wings,” Spirito said.

A younger audience member, Lily, asked him to clarify if he was also saying very fluffy cats could fly silently as well. Spirito explained he wasn’t exactly intending that inference, but “yes, I am saying that, for sure,” he joked back.

The Libraries Rock summer program started this season on June 1 and will finish up Aug. 31. Families who are part of the Sno-Isle system are invited to “get in the groove with books” this summer.

“Children involved in summer activities that include reading, critical thinking, and hands-on discovery begin the new school year better prepared for school success than those who do not,” according to Sno-Isle Libraries. “Studies show that reading just 4-6 books can help stop the dreaded ‘summer slide.’”

Free programs will be offered at each location all summer. Spirito said there are different sessions for kids starting at 10:30 a.m. almost every day of the week in Monroe.

Tyson Horner said he and his children visit the local branch regularly. They pop into the various gatherings from time to time, and wanted to check out the musical act Friday.

Lincoln Horner, the youngest of the three kids who were with Tyson that morning exclaimed, “I like salad,” long after the group sing-along had finished. His older sister, Eliana Horner, said she was glad her little brother had a chance to attend.

“We like listening to music,” she said, “and it was cool for Lincoln.”

Children who resister with the summer reading program can pick up a reading log, according to Sno-Isle Libraries. Once the form is filled up with completed books, it can be turned in for a free prize.

Reed and Spirito agreed they had been looking forward to playing music again. The couple was first introduced to each other at a gig, and toured in their respective bands Coat and Orso for a long time, up until moving to the Pacific Northwest four years ago.

Their passion is a great way to connect with kids, Reed said. They are a great audience, Spirito said.

The majority of the songs were original pieces that he had written and stowed away for such an opportunity. Most of them focused on his own interests, like really enjoying salad, but they also have other layers.

“All of my songs have a subliminal kind of message,” Spirito said.

In “The Monster Song” he requests the crowd think about what they are most afraid of, and imagine that is what the piece is about. The content is focused on regulating emotions. Listeners are asked if they would scream, cry or laugh during an encounter with the thing they are more scared of, resulting in a lesson on not taking their fears too seriously.

At the end of the event Spirito gave a nod to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Monroe Public Schools Foundation executive director Sue Skillen, who coordinates the local Books from Birth program, so newborns and children up to 5 years old have free access to books, was also in the audience Friday morning.

For more information on Sno-Isle’s summer reading program, visit There is also a teen program for older youth, which includes more reading challenges and weekly prizes. 


Photos by Kelly Sullivan: Monroe Pulblic Library managing librarian Phil Spirito put together a band for a special performance during the Sno-Isle libraries summer program on Friday, July 20.


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