Tuesday evenings at Central Library are abuzz with exhilarating sounds of excited children eagerly awaiting another adventure with Janet Brown at her Library Live Children’s Club.
Janet Brown, Library Services Representative, pictured below, runs the Library Live Children’s Club at Windsor Public Library’s Central Branch, along with the assistance of several high school student volunteers.
According to Ms. Janet (as she is often called), the first club started in 2000 in response to a group of boys who met regularly in the children’s department to play a trading card game. “I wanted to channel this group into more library-oriented activities but not restrict it to the typical book club,” Brown explains. “Since I wanted to incorporate a variety of activities, I decided that I would name the umbrella club the Library Live Children’s Club.”
The Library Live Children’s Club is based on the following tenets: to have FUN as we READ, WRITE, LEARN, and IMAGINE in order to SUCCEED. The Club’s aim is to foster group cohesion through participating in intellectually stimulating, challenging, and exciting activities that stretch the imagination to succeed.
The club meets every Tuesday from 5 to 7 pm. Membership is free and open to children between the ages of 4 and 13. Each week, Ms. Brown selects a new theme which she introduces with a related story or poem. Some of the themes the club has tackled include: art, dinosaurs, space, insects, Earth Day, festivals around the world, Black History Month and more.
Apart from their regular meetings there are special events such as the annual author reading by local award-winning children’s author, Christopher Paul Curtis. Mr. Curtis visits in May to give a motivating talk which encourages children to read and write stories. The reading is the kickoff for The Christopher Paul Curtis Book and Reading Club run by Ms. Janet. Other well-attended special events have included It’s All About Harry, a program based on the beloved Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.
The club started offering homework assistance to grade school children in 2005. “Many parents came to the Children’s Department pleading to get help for their children with homework assignments,” says Brown.
“We decided to ask the high school student volunteers in the club to take on this challenge. As usual, the high school volunteers responded with great enthusiasm. Since that time, many grade school students have taken advantage of this service, offered five months a year in October, November, February, March, and April.”
In the past 13 years, some of the other clubs that were created based on interest and demand include the art club, the chess club, the computer club, the dance club, the Lego club, the Earth Day environmental club, the poetry club, and the science club with particular emphasis on what interests specific club members.
One of the most successful clubs is the innovative Books Alive Children’s Club which next meets tonight, Tuesday, December 3, at 5:00 pm and will meet again on December 10 and 17. This great acting club promotes reading by encouraging children to express what they have read by acting out the stories. This increases comprehension and attracts both avid, as well as reluctant, readers.
High school volunteers’ dedication and commitment to assisting their younger peers with these clubs and special events are commendable.
Their volunteering hours have also paid off tremendously. In addition to fulfilling more than their 40 hour volunteer requirement for high school graduation, they have also gained valuable skills and abilities in mentoring and team playing. “Our volunteers have gone on to win major awards like the Ron W. Ianni Entrance Scholarship to the University of Windsor,” says Brown, “and they come back to visit and help out from time to time.”
Among its many benefits, Brown believes the Library Live Children’s Club has helped to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for many children who otherwise might be less inclined to participate in group activities.
For complete locations, dates, and times of programming for all ages, please consult Windsor Public Library’s Programs.