Everyone knows that the library is the perfect place to find beach reads. What is lesser known: the library can also be the perfect place to find the beach.
Last Wednesday, the hosted Beach Babies, a summertime celebration for infants and toddlers complete with stories, songs and outdoor activities. And while water and books are usually a combination that causes librarians to cringe, this event made a splash!
The party started with beach-themed picture books and songs in the storytime area. Although this matched our usual Wednesday morning routine, what followed was a change as refreshing as a cool ocean breeze: attendees traveled outside to the library’s very own seaside paradise.
A friendly inflatable shark hid inside a blue cabana by the book drop. Over on the umbrella-covered patio, a large, yellow-and-black boat filled with water beckoned to partygoers.
Dressed in a flowered bathing suit, toddler Adrianna hurried to climb inside. She was soon joined by Lily, who kicked her legs so contentedly that she inspired storytime grandmother Nancy Farnum to compare her to a “water lily.”
Every party needs refreshments – even if they are pretend. At the picnic table, Farnum’s 2-year-old granddaughter, Heidi, used a giant orange spoon to stir a “soup” of seashells and water in a pail.
Perhaps unable to wait for the “soup” to be done, 6-month-old Samantha chewed on a plastic butterfly that matched the butterflies on her bucket hat. Earlier, her 2-year-old brother, Dylan, had been playing with a spotted beach ball that was almost as tall as his waist. Watching him made it clear: the guests may have been little, but the beach toys provided them with big fun!
The beach wouldn’t be the beach without sand. Marissa Macedonia showed her son, Hunter, the library’s version: sandpaper! Crayons were nearby so that partygoers could enjoy the novelty of coloring on a bumpy surface.
Coloring, even on unusual objects, isn’t always as exciting as getting wet, though. At a water tub, Collin tested the buoyancy of sponges. Later, 1-year-old Tennyson happily leaned over the tub to blow bubbles into the water. Not far away, 2-year-old Andrew blew real bubbles into the air.
The activities were simple, the supplies were inexpensive, and a genuine beach was absent, yet no one seemed to mind. In fact, the last guests left almost an hour-and-a-half after the event began. But that wasn’t how I knew it had been a hit. How did I know? One toddler left behind his sandals. Nothing says “good party” like left-behind apparel.
With the end of school vacation looming ahead, families often turn to libraries for last-minute help with dreaded summer reading assignments. That’s not always a positive association. But as Beach Babies proved, the library can be a source of free entertainment as well. Even though this party is over, there are still dozens of exciting programs scheduled for children of all ages before school starts. View a calendar of these events at www.library4kids.wordpress.com
If you prefer the real beach to our faux beach, we’ve got you covered there, too. The library owns a pass to Connecticut state parks, which Oxford residents can borrow to visit state beaches for free. So the next time you pack your beach bag, don’t just throw in towels and sunscreen. Make sure you take along your library card, too.