Fun For Kids at the Redding Library
● By Laura Christman
Reading Between the Lines
By Laura Christman
Photos by Erin Claasen
The situation seemed rather fishy.
A Coleman National Fish Hatchery biologist read three stories, each with a finny protagonist. Then a large salmon by the name of Landon entered the room.
“I see a BIG, BIG fish!” yelled out a preschooler as Landon lumbered in.
After taking photos with the friendly salmon character, children gathered around tables where they slathered paint on rubber fish forms and dipped sliced celery into paint to make fish pictures.
Just another busy morning at Redding Library.
The children’s section of the library has books and reading nooks, but staying still and silent is not the expectation. Action is the vibe. The spacious downstairs area is a place to imagine, explore and engage.
Children come for the stories but stay for the crafts. Or maybe the Legos with the floor-to-ceiling wall to build on. There also are computer games, a dollhouse, marble maze, art materials, science activities and puppets. An interactive projector flashes images onto the floor, inviting children to hop across stones, jump on popcorn kernels to pop them, burst bubbles or scatter jellybeans.
Story times are a staple—offered every weekday. Family game nights are on Mondays; movie nights (with popcorn!) on Fridays. Special events throughout the year include seasonal festivals. Last spring’s “Rev, Rumble and Roar” featured a helicopter, fire engines and big rigs.
“When people think about libraries, they think about books.
I think people are pretty surprised to see all the things we offer,” says Anna Tracy, Shasta Public Libraries Youth Services supervisor.
Lots of things are in play at the Redding Library, and all are built around fostering a love of learning. The children’s section includes board books, picture books, chapter books and parenting resources. Books, magazines, preloaded MP3 players with audio stories, DVDs and board games can be checked out.
A popular summer reading program features prizes and encompasses activities like yoga, robotics and karate. Other reading incentive programs run year-round.
“We want kids reading all the time,” Tracy says.
The children’s section stays in motion, with new books, activities and materials constantly being rotated in.
“There’s always something new,” Tracy says.
Tracy, 27, has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Sonoma State University and is working on her master’s degree in library and information science. She grew up in Redding and started working for the Redding Library when she was 16, shelving books and helping customers. She returned to Redding four years ago for a library position and was promoted to Youth Services supervisor two years later.
As she plays with an egg-splat ball and demonstrates a wall creeper – prizes from the summer reading program – Tracy notes, “I think I am a little bit of a kid at heart.”
On her desk is a pink-plastic Darth Vader figure she made with the library’s 3-D printer. On her office wall are framed children’s paintings made during Messy Paint Day. When describing the children’s section offerings, Tracy frequently says: “It’s super fun!”
The fun has purpose. Programs and activities are grounded in early childhood and literacy expertise and proven practices.
“Everything is backed in solid research,” Tracy notes.
A sensory story time offered once a week welcomes children who have autism and other special needs. Lights are lower and voices softer. Tactile activities, such as wrapping yarn around a sheep cutout, are featured.
Other story times also have themes, including art, music and science. In science sessions, preschoolers have launched marshmallows with tiny catapults and made butterflies with tissue-paper wings set in motion by static electricity.
Shannon Carpenter of Redding took son Scott, 3, to a science story time focused on weather.
“For the rest of the week he talked about wind and tornadoes,” she says. “It’s fun to watch his brain connect.”
Carpenter became a full-time stay-at-home mom after the birth of daughter Hayley, 7 months. She appreciates the library because it’s a welcoming place where she and her children can go for a change of scene.
Margaret Twombley and her 4-year-old granddaughter Leah are story-time regulars. Leah was shy at first but now joins in at the craft table with other children.
“She loves to hear the stories. She loves to do the crafts,” Twombley says.
Tracy wants the children’s section of the library to be “a place that is so fun, people don’t realize how much they are learning, how much they are taking away.”
A big reward of her job is witnessing children connect to the library.
“I love to hear a kid squeal out because he just found the book he wanted,” she says.
Redding Library • 1100 Parkview Ave.
Open 10 am to 8 pm Monday through Thursday;
10 am to 6 pm Friday and Saturday; 1 to 5 pm Sunday