Think of all the books that made an impression on you when you were a little kid. Whether it’s The Cat in the Hat, The Five Chinese Brothers, or Make Way for Ducklings, there are always children’s classics that stay with you for the rest of your life. It’s a rite of passage that all kids should experience. Children’s books open up our imaginations, educate us, and provide us with an introduction to how reading can enrich our lives.
Even as parents we do not lose our love of children’s books. If we’re not re-reading the classics to our own kids, we’re experiencing the newer ones that enrapture us even more. A simple-minded story such as Good Night Moon or a tender one like Love You Forever motivates you to continue exploring the wonder of books. I found I was more excited to delve into Where’s Waldo and I Spy than my kids. The value of children’s books cannot be measured.
We are very fortunate in Cooperstown to have Martha Sharer as our youth services librarian. Martha is passionate about children and reading. She has been in charge of our children’s programs for 20 years and hasn’t lost any of her enthusiasm.
Our introductory program is the children’s story hour held every Wednesday morning rain or shine (or snow) at 10:30am. It is intended for children 2 to 4 years of age, and parents are usually just as involved as their kids.
Martha chooses books based on what’s topical or newly published, or old favorites she knows the kids will enjoy. There is a theme depending on an approaching holiday such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. We often have guest readers as many of our patrons enjoy reading to the kids.
Following the reading, which takes about 30 minutes, Martha invites the kids and parents into the back room where they do a craft project. These crafts range from masks to stick puppets but are simple enough for preschoolers to complete.
Another one of our mainstays is the summer reading program which is intended to keep young children and teens motivated to read during their summer vacation. The American Library Association (ALA) offers a different theme each year and Martha designs the program to fit that particular concept. Participants keep a log of their readings and are awarded prizes based on their efforts.
For kids to realize the library is not only an information superhighway but also a community center we offer a game club for children ages 9-12 every Friday from 3:30 to 4:30pm. It’s a chance to socialize, have fun, and experience the library environment all at the same time.
In addition we have several children and family programs throughout the year sponsored by the Friends of the Village Library. Martha is heavily involved in planning and overseeing these programs that bring in outside speakers, authors, and entertainers to enrich the lives of our patrons. The summer programs usually take place on Wednesday evenings and the ones during the winter and spring on Saturday mornings.
Having a library that provides such services is rewarding as we see youngsters return over and over as they get older. By exposing kids to the wonder of books at an early age and then continuing to provide them with educational opportunities we hope they will never lose their thirst for knowledge. Our children’s programs are a basic part of who we are.