Monday, June 05, 2006

Discovering a New Hobby at the Library

By Christina VanGinkel

If you have a child that is interested in finding a hobby, but neither you nor they have any clear ideas on the subject, summer is a great time to help explore the possibilities of a hobby that they very well may enjoy for many years to come. In addition, the library is the first place you should be sure to check out to see what wonders you might be able to find.

Yes, the books inside your local library are surely a wealth of information about hobbies in general, but I am talking about a more hands on situations that many libraries nationwide offer once the doors of school are closed for the summer and theirs start swinging open to students on a more regular basis.

Call your local library to see if they are holding any classes this summer for kids. Many libraries offer classes on a wide range of subjects, from computer learning to crafting to hands on photography. The library one town over from us held a weeklong class for elementary aged kids last year on beginning digital photography. The only thing I found inadequate about the class when I looked into it was that it was just for kids. The class had such a comprehensive list of topics that they were going to cover throughout the week that I would have loved to have taken the class myself. After several adults did approach the library with a similar request, they did set up just such a class for any age participants who wanted to attend.

Some libraries also offer one-day explorer classes where the subject at hand is an exploration into a specific hobby. They employ adults to come in and demonstrate their hobby to the kids. This is an ideal way, for kids to see up close, how something is done, and it can give them the information they need to understand if such a hobby is something, they would like to try. I have seen everything from glass blowing to woodcarving, metalworking, even pottery making with a wheel, all demonstrated at the library. This is a great way for kids to learn about a handcraft that they might otherwise never have a chance to be exposed to. Most of the adults also had information on where the kids could sign up for classes if they were really interested in learning more, and I thought this was just great.

Some libraries might employ guest speakers along a similar theme. The person might have visited a foreign country or traveled in an unusual means, say a river trip up the Amazon or camping in the wilds of Africa. While they might not be demonstrating an actual hobby, kids can come away from these presentations with a much broader range of information about the world in general, and this can open their minds to all sorts of possibilities.

Our small local library has a display case right next to their door with contents that change regularly. Locals are asked to bring in just about any collection they might possess to share with the public. I have seen collections of everything from Wizard of Oz paraphernalia to a collection of nutcrackers, a cookie cutter collection, to assorted collectible plates, and a collection of items relating to the sinking of the Titanic. One never knows for sure what collection might next fill the shelves of the display case. It is a great way for the youth of the community to see what others have deemed worthy of collecting. Most collections span years of work assembling and keeping the items in top condition, and are a perfect example for kids to get an up-close view of things they might otherwise never see.

The library in your community might be much more than just books, but unless you check them out you might never know just what they can offer you and your family. Head to yours this summer with your kids and help them open the doors to a completely new world of possibilities and explorations. They might come away with a brand new hobby, or at the least, a bit of knowledge about the world that is their community.

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