From frogs to bingo … at the Monroe library

Celebrating Take Your Child to the Library Day

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Children’s Librarian Michelle Turbak reads to 35 fathers and children from a large-sized picture book at the Monroe library. (Photo by Karen Kovacs Dydzuhn)


Exotic animals visited the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library as part of Take Your Child to the Library Day.

On Feb. 2, Chris Evers, founder of Animal Embassy, talked to children about the different ways that animals communicate. He brought with him some of the animals the organization has rescued, including an Arizona mountain king snake, pink toad tarantula and baby alligator.

Robert Mas, 10, an animal lover, enjoyed listening to the information provided. His favorite animal, he said, was the large owl that Evers brought to the library. “Last year at my school we dissected owl pellets,” Robert said.

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Chris Evers of Animal Embassy, with an owl he raised, speaks at the Monroe library. (Photo by Karen Kovacs Dydzuhn)

During the demonstration, Robert volunteered to hold a red-eye tree frog. “They’re not slimy but they are sticky,” he said.

And Robert should know. He used to own one. “We’ve had tons of pets over the years,” Robert explained. “We used to also have a green tree frog, anole lizard and turtle.”

The children’s room at the library was busy with children and parents attending various programs throughout the day.


Connecticut librarian came up with idea

Founded by Nadine Lipman, a children’s librarian in eastern Connecticut, Take Your Child to the Library Day’s intent is to introduce new patrons to all that local libraries have to offer.

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Marina Salvas, 9, picks out accessories for her fashion project during Take Your Child to the Library Day. (Photo by Karen Kovacs Dydzuhn)

Children’s Librarian Michelle Turbak and Children’s Assistant Librarian Lauren Balla coordinated this year’s program in Monroe. Along with a visit from Animal Embassy, some of the activities were two different art projects, a scavenger hunt, family bingo, and a visit from the Sound Tigers mascot.

“We were busy all day, which is what today is all about,” said Library Director Margaret Borchers. “We wanted to give people who don’t normally visit the library a chance to come in. We also wanted our regular patrons to just have a nice time enjoying fun programs on a cold winter day.”


Dads and tots

A large turnout of fathers showed up for the library’s first Dads and Donuts story time. Turbak led 35 fathers and children in read aloud-stories, finger plays and songs. Some dads and their tots jumped around to music.

When Turbak read one particular book about doughnuts, a few toddlers headed toward the snack table where the librarians had put out several boxes of Munchkin doughnuts and cups of apple juice.

Turbak recognized several members of her young audience because they participate in her weekday story hours. Mike McEvoy said his wife takes daughter Eliana, 2, to story-time classes each week.

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The Bridgeport Sound Tigers mascot poses with Eliana McEvoy, 2, during Take Your Child to the Library Day at the Monroe library. (Photo by Karen Kovacs Dydzuhn)

Like most of the dads present, he was happy to have the chance to participate in the fun this time. “We’ll be back later this afternoon to see the Animal Embassy program,” McEvoy said at the conclusion of the story program.

Library staff member Pat Salerno said many patrons returned for afternoon events. “Some spent the entire day at the library,” Salerno said. “What a programming feat for Michelle and Lauren for Take Your Child to the Library Day.”


Family bingo and fashion art

At the end of the day, a small but enthusiastic group of moms and children enjoyed a game of library-themed bingo. Based upon the letters “DEWEY” (for the Dewey Decimal System), every young participant won a prize.

Tory Beck, 8, won a matchbox car. His mother, Pam, said she didn’t realize Take Your Child to the Library Day was taking place this week.

Tory Beck, 8, won a Matchbox car during family bingo. (Photo by Karen Kovacs Dydzuhn)

Tory Beck, 8, won a Matchbox car during family bingo. (Photo by Karen Kovacs Dydzuhn)

“I came in this afternoon because they were holding books for us,” Tory said. “When we heard there was a bingo game about to start, we joined in. We had a good time.”

Young girls, ages 9 to 12, spent the morning creating three-dimensional fashion designs.

Led by art educator Kristine Humber and her 14-year-old daughter Katharine, aspiring fashionistas chose textiles and ribbons to adorn their handmade outfits. The designs were mounted on thick cardboard.

“It’s such a fun idea for kids to do,” Humber said. “Unfortunately, we had to turn some kids away.”

Humber will return to the Monroe library for a fashion design program for teens and to make eggshell mosaics with children ages 9 to 12.


Scavenger hunt

Youngsters became better acquainted with the children’s department by participating in a scavenger hunt.

With the help of their siblings and parents, children were asked to find the section where the audio books were located, a mystery book author, their favorite super-hero in a graphic novel, and a movie that began with the first letter of their last name.

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Autumn Smith, 9, holds a project from the fashion art program during the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library’s Take Your Child to the Library Day. (Photo by Karen Kovacs Dydzuhn)

Two new teddy bears are in the children’s department, and children age 5 and older are being invited to suggest a name for one of the stuffed animals. The other one recently was named “Bookmark.”

According to a sign posted near the check-out desk, Bookmark and his buddy will soon be available to check out and visit children’s houses.

The child who submits the winning name will be the first person to check out the bear. He or she also will receive a gift certificate to Linda’s Story Time in Monroe.


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