Your public library supports literacy for all

  • The hat and mitten drive at Wheeler Memorial Library in Orange. Contributed photo

  • Jason Sullivan-Flynn and Todd Ladeau. Contributed photo

Published: 10/3/2019 9:33:28 AM

As the morning air begins to chill and late afternoon sunlight begins to slant, we feel the approach of autumn in the North Quabbin area. With autumn comes that unmistakable feeling of heading back to school: from kindergartners to college students, from recent graduates to those of us who haven’t been in a classroom in many years, it feels like back to school time.

It’s appropriate, then, to celebrate this time of year with a look at the center of a community’s life-long learning: your local library. Libraries are a hub of learning for all ages: from parents and caregivers bringing eager young children to fun and educational storytimes, to enriching after school programming for school-aged kids and ways for patrons of all ages to access great books.

Life-long learning takes many forms, and local libraries offer wonderful resources for everyone who has an interest in pursuing it. The Wheeler Memorial Library in Orange, like its fellow local libraries, welcomes the full spectrum of the community through its doors with dynamic and creative programming. Weekly storytimes for young children and their caregivers involves learning through interactive songs, stories, games, crafts, and movement. If you are lucky enough to catch a storytime in full swing, you’ll see kids shaking rhythm instruments, gluing and coloring and seeing and hearing engaging stories on a weekly theme like autumn or friendship. 

In offering varied support for reading at home for school-aged kids, the Wheeler Memorial Library has both audiobooks for listening to stories and access to Tumblebooks. At home or at the library, Tumblebooks enables kids to turn the pages of a book on screen, while listening to it being read to them. There are many ways to enjoy a story, and libraries want to increase the ways to make this possible for all children, families and adults.

The Wheeler Memorial Library offers a variety of programming for children, teens, young adults and adult patrons. This year we have our sixth annual Robert P. Collen Poetry Competition, an event that commemorates the memory of Bob Collen and the contributions he made towards literacy in the community and in the library. Everyone who knew Collen was well aware of his affection for his hometown of Orange. His most celebrated poem, “The Town and the River,” is a love song to the place of his birth and the inspiration behind this competition. This year's theme is “legacy.” Participants can write up to three original, unpublished poems about the theme of legacy as they define it. Poems need to be submitted by the Saturday, Oct. 12 deadline. Any mailed poems need to be postmarked by this date.

In an effort to promote community-wide literacy, the Wheeler Memorial Library is holding a pop-up library in the King James Community Room at 383 East River St. in Orange, Monday, Oct. 21 from 2 to 4 p.m. Our library director will bring a sizeable amount of both regular and large print books to the community room; anyone who is interested is welcome to check out materials or request a particular book! If you are new to the library, we will have library card applications for those without a prior CW Mars library card. If you’re unable to make it to the community room on that day please let us know and we’ll have your requested materials delivered to you.

Every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, the Orange Public Libraries host a local book club that anyone is welcome to attend. Two books are selected each month, one fiction and one non-fiction. Anyone is welcome to check out a book club book and attend the meetings regardless of whether you read the whole book or just half of it. All thoughts and ideas are welcome during the discussion. Follow the Tuesday Tales Book Club on Facebook for updates about meeting times and new book selections. If you’re unable to make it to one of the meetings you can share your thoughts/ideas with the Facebook group and have a discussion online with other members. For the month of October, our fiction selection is “The Last to See Me” by Mylene Dressler. The non-fiction selection is “Underland: A Deep Time Journey” by Robert Macfarlane.

"I'm more than grateful for the Wheeler book club and our fortnightly discussions about books that I never got around to reading or perhaps never heard of," said Phil Zahodiakin, a library patron, about the club. "So, my thanks to Jessica for starting the club and also to Charlene Deam, whose new-book selections are so good it's impossible to keep up."

For our younger patrons, the Wheeler Memorial Library offers regular weekly programming to help build child literacy within our local community. One such program is Baby and Me Storytime, which happens every Monday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Wheeler Memorial Library. This event is for children up to 36 months in age; it includes songs, rhymes, books and 45 minutes of free play. Older and younger siblings are always welcome to attend storytimes with their family. Another weekly event we offer is Rise and Romp Storytime, which happens every Tuesday from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. at the Wheeler Memorial Library. This event is for children ages 2 to 5 years old; it includes stories, songs, rhymes, movement and an easy craft. Older and younger siblings are always welcome to attend storytimes with their families.

The Wheeler Memorial Library will also be holding a pumpkin decorating event for kids ages 5 and up. Children and their families are welcome to attend and decorate their very own pumpkin. All materials will be provided, but there’s a limited supply of pumpkins so it’s first come first served. This event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 19 from noon to 1:30 p.m. Please call the library’s children’s room for more information at 978-544-2495, ext. 103. Pumpkins for this event were generously donated by Fletcher Farm, of Southampton.

The Wheeler Memorial Library will also be holding a Hat and Mitten Drive from Oct. 1 to Dec. 1. Donate new hats and mittens to help kids and families stay warm this winter. Donations will be accepted at the adult and children’s circulation desks at the Wheeler Memorial Library. Donations will also be accepted at the Orange Town Hall. All hats and mittens donated will be distributed to the public in partnership with: The Congregational Church’s “Cellar Closet Thrift Shop” and the Community Action Pioneer Valley.

Jason Sullivan-Flynn is the children’s librarian/assistant director at the Wheeler Memorial Library. Todd Ladeau is the interlibrary-loan coordinator at the Wheeler Memorial Library.

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