Thrifty Thurston: Timberland Regional Library Offers Free Fun For Families

Laura Broderick and her son, Ethan, sweeten up the holiday season at the Lacey library's gingerbread house decorating party on Wednesday. Photo by Jennifer Crain.


By Jennifer Crain

Puget Sound EnergyIn the middle of a season of spending, it can be dispiriting to try and come up with meaningful holiday family activities. Gifts and shipping costs are expensive, after all, sometimes leaving little for the festivities that are supposed to surround the holidays.

Youth Services Library Associate Rachel Ikehara-Martin constructed three “gingerbread” houses out of paper and cardboard. Since Monday, families have been tiling, frosting and decorating the structures. Kids have a final chance to help this morning at 11:00 a.m. Photo by Jennifer Crain.

The library is an exception during a time that can be rife with consumerism. Family programs at Timberland Regional Library branches around the county draw people together around free family activities. And done as part of a community, they take on a festive air.

To take part, my son and I headed for the Lacey Timberland Library after school yesterday. When we arrived, kids were already gathered around three cardboard (“gingerbread”) structures, baggies of frosting and fistfuls of marshmallows in hand. My son circled a castle-like house that was already sided with graham crackers, the shutters striped with purple and green frosting.

Since Monday, kids and parents have been dropping into the activity room and decorating the giant versions of the traditional holiday gingerbread house, constructed by Youth Services Library Associate Rachel Ikehara-Martin. Once they’re finished, the houses will be displayed at the Lacey branch.

Brittney Schramm, a Lacey parent who attended the event yesterday with her son, says the library is a big part of her family’s life.

“Where we lived before there was only one library and there weren’t really any activities,” she says. “Now that we live here, about once a week some member of our family comes to the library to check out materials or attend the events.”

Libraries are one of the best resources for families on a budget, says Katheryn Dunham, Senior Librarian for Youth Services at the Lacey branch.

David Lubin of Lacey adds a finishing touch to a giant gingerbread house. The finished houses will be on display at the Lacey branch during the holiday season. Photo by Jennifer Crain.

“Public libraries are a bargain because we do not charge for programs,” she says, “They are absolutely free.”

Throughout the year, parents and caregivers can attend fun programs at local library branches for kids from infants through teens. But did you know that library youth programs are also well researched and aim to meet both the needs of the community and the goals of the library?

For instance, Dunham says, “story times are planned using literacy-based skills, important tools when children are learning to read. All programs keep Timberland’s mission in mind, providing a place where people can ‘read, learn, connect and grow.’”

Working on gingerbread houses may sound like spun sugar, but for kids who may be more interested in the Wii than Mercy Watson, it’s a great way to promote literacy and community by getting them to a place where they’re surrounded by books and other kids.

Your kids have one more chance to deck the walls on the Lacey Library gingerbread structures: this morning at 11:00. If you can’t manage that, try to make it out for their Greeting Card Program next Thursday, December 20th at 2:30 p.m. And keep your eyes open for more family library programs throughout the county in the months to come.

Upcoming family events at Thurston County library branches:

Laura Broderick and her son, Ethan, sweeten up the holiday season at the Lacey library’s gingerbread house decorating party on Wednesday. Photo by Jennifer Crain.

Lego Club

Tenino Timberland Library

Wednesday, December 19

(this event repeats every Wednesday)

3:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Greeting Cards

Lacey Timberland Library

Thursday, December 20

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

School’s Out! Game Day

Olympia Timberland Library

Friday, December 21

1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Amazement Magic Show

Olympia Timberland Library

Thursday, December 27

2:00 – 2:50 p.m.

Elliot Schramm (foreground) and David Lubin, both Lacey youngsters, decorate a giant “gingerbread” house at the Timberland Regional Library in Lacey. Photo by Jennifer Crain.

Laugh Yourself Into the New Year

Olympia Timberland Library

Friday, December 28

3:00 – 3:45 p.m.

Amazement Magic Show

Tumwater Timberland Library

Saturday, January 12

2:00 – 2:50 p.m.

Storyteller Naomi Baltuck Presents: He Can, She Can, We Can!

Olympia Timberland Library

Saturday, January 26

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

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