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East County Regional Library programs

August 14, 2019
By MEGHAN BRADBURY ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

East County Regional Library has another packed schedule of enticing activities for youth and adults.

Head of Youth Services Kamara Shonhai said they are celebrating the start of the school year with a Welcome Back Bash for kindergarten through fifth grade students from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16. The party will include refreshments, games, activities and prizes.

"We are inviting all homeschoolers of the same age bracket," Regional Branch Manager Samantha Wallace said. "We are asking parents to come out as well. Teachers (are invited) to come that teach those grade levels. It's an open invitation for everybody in the community."

The event is also a great opportunity for the youngsters to sign up for a library card.

Wallace said the party provides the children of the community with the opportunity to network with other kids attending elementary schools in the area. She said it's a way for them to get together and collaborate as a big family.

"We are so big on community and community involvement. We want to show our neighbors and people in the community that we are here, and that we care," Wallace said.

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The bash will be held in the meeting room, which houses 150 people. With the library staff always prepared for overage, the overflow of people will celebrate in the storytime room.

A special Welcome Back Bash Celebration will also be held for middle and high school students from 2 to 5:30 p.m. in the meeting room Wednesday, Sept. 4.

Shonhai said the bash will focus on services for middle and high school students.

"While at school they are focusing on education and being quiet. We want them to be able to come in the library and have time to socialize. We will encourage that education and socialization piece for them, so they don't feel like they have to be quiet all the time," she said.

Wallace said Shonhai has always wanted the middle schoolers to have their own "space in the place," which has become a reality.

"They are not old enough to be with the teenagers, but too old to be with the little kids. She has carved out a new and improved area in the Youth Service Department and expanded the area for tweens. That small space has grown. Kids need to have their space in the place," she said, adding that the space has been rearranged with furniture and their book collections. "Her (Shonhai) and her team are going to focus on putting age-related material (in the space.) We don't just think about what is comfortable for us. We think about our students and their needs as well."

The storytime will resume for Toddler Tales (every Tuesday), Baby Rhyme Time (every Wednesday), Preschool Storytime (every Thursday) and Family Storytime (every other Saturday) later this month.

Toddler Tales will kick off Tuesday, Aug. 27, from 10 to 11 a.m., followed by Baby Rhyme Time Wednesday, Aug. 28, at both 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The following day, Thursday, Aug. 29, Preschool Storytime will be held from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Family Storytime will be held from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31.

Baby Rhyme Time is for those 18 months and younger with fewer books and more finger play, lap sitting and parent involvement. Toddler Time is geared towards those 18 to 36 months featuring short books, activities, movements and songs perfect for that age range. Preschool Storytime is for those ages 3 to 5 and focuses on more books revolving around a theme.

"Let them attend independently," Shonhai said. "It gives the child the opportunity to socialize with other children and be able to be without their mommy or daddy for a little bit."

Wallace said the storytimes have a theme because it helps with brain development. Each theme builds upon another, while all tied to a particular thread.

"It helps with sequencing. It's a beautiful process and I love it and our kids love it," Wallace said.

For the teens, new this year, is Library Teen Talk, which will kick off from 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20. Shonhai said they discovered that the Teen Book Club was not as popular as they thought it would be, so they decided to do a Library Teen Talk, which will focus on current events and things taking place in their lives.

The first question will ask the students what their dreams and aspirations are for this school year. She said they will bring in books regarding the discussion to encourage reading.

Other programs, Flashback Movie Friday, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, and Way Back Movie Wednesday for Tweens, from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, will be added to the monthly listing.

"I remember when I was a tween I liked watching movies before I was born," Shonhai said. "We are going to try some movies before they were born in the '90s."

Another program for the youth is Kids Read Down Fines, which is held every Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. and one Saturday a month from 10 to 11 a.m.

"It's an opportunity for children under the age of 18 to be able to get their fines waived," Shonhai said from 15 minutes to an hour. "It's only for late items, not for anything that has been lost or damaged. It's an opportunity to get their fines waived to be able to use their cards."

The kids can waive a total of $8 in one session.

Wallace said once their account is more than $10, they are not able to take books out of the library that they may need for school, or leisure reading.

"Please bring your kids out and let them participate in the Read Down Fines, so they can get the material that they need to be successful," she said. "We don't want a late charge to prevent kids from growing. Your ability to read and comprehend and be able to explain what you have read is a big process for us doing interviews, filling out applications for work and universities. The thinking process comes through exercise of the brain through reading. We have to do everything to promote literacy."

Wallace said they also have programs for adults, which are being organized by Sarah Allison. She said it's important to offer children and adult programs because when they go home they have something to talk about, so everything is not in isolation.

"She (Allison) is doing outreach programs to the elderly community in nursing homes delivering reader return books," Wallace said. "We are always looking for people to donate materials to us and we share it with our community."

She said Allison and Shonhai are meeting once a month, so family events can be planned because they want to offer things for the entire family.

"We really give our patrons our all. I'm so amazed to have the staff that I have. When I said, 'Guys, I think we should,' they say 'Let's do it.' That's absolutely amazing. We are much more than books," Wallace said.

She said she wants to thank patrons for visiting the library and choosing East County Regional Library.

"We look forward to serving them," Wallace said.

East County Regional Library is at 881 Gunnery Road.

For more information, call (239) 533-4200, or visit



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