By Geoffrey Elterich
The Children’s Department of the New Britain Public Library remains one of the best places for children’s activities in the city.
At the library’s Main Branch on High Street, the Children’s Department offers a large assortment of books, a variety of fun, educational events, and a quiet place for children and parents to read or use the computer.
“The Children’s Department has programming for children up to the fifth grade,” explained Amy Litke the Manager of Children’s Services. “We work with families to build children’s literacy and ‘school readiness’ skills. The goal is to have children prepared for school.” Litke has been Manager of Children’s Services for almost 10 years and is proud of the department’s popularity and the services it offers.
The library encourages parents and children to visit by offering exciting events and programs. Recently, there was a Teddy Bear Picnic where kids brought in their favorite teddy bears, got their pictures taken with a giant, walking teddy bear, and participated in various activities, such as “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!” This event is very popular because it is so lively and festive.
These events help the children associate the library with a positive experience. One of the most popular events is Animal Adventures with Nature Nick. Nick is an exotic animal expert and recently made his third visit to New Britain. Nick brings an assortment of animals with him as he travels throughout the Northeastern United States doing educational shows. Currently, he has a wallaby, a flamingo, an armadillo, a monitor lizard, a monkey and a fennec fox named Tinkerbell.
The animals, which Nick cares for personally, come from many places. “Most are surplus from zoos or rescued,” he explained. He also has a working relationship with the state’s Fish & Game Department, and some animals were confiscated for being owned illegally.
This year’s Animal Adventures program at the library was a huge success according to Litke. “It was the biggest crowd of the summer,” Litke said. “Everybody loves the animals and Nature Nick!”
Melissa Garcia and her sister Michelle were two of the 155 people in attendance. Garcia came with her 6-year-old son, and Michelle brought her 2-year-old daughter and two sons, age 10 and 6.
Michelle’s daughter favored the flamingo. “She kept yelling out ‘birdie!’,” said Michelle. Both women visit the Children’s Department with their children about twice a week. It is a vital part of their education and helps prepare them for school, especially during the summer.
Besides the special events like the Teddy Bear Picnic and Animal Adventures, the Children’s Department provides educational programs throughout the summer. They offer preschool story time, Story/Craft, Tuesdays at the Movies, and much more. In addition to the Main Library, the Jefferson Branch also offers many programs and activities for children.
For children’s events, a parent or guardian must be present. The full calendar of events is listed on their website. If you’re looking for a fun, educational experience for your children, the New Britain Public Library is a sure thing.