Kids seem never to tire of sledding, but grown-ups eventually need a break from the cold. Fortunately, the Ashland children's library has some indoor activities planned to help keep kids entertained this winter break. In addition to its regularly scheduled story times, there will be painting, singing and games to celebrate the winter holidays. Everything will take place inside the warm and cozy library.
Sunday, Dec. 15, 1 to 3 p.m. — Local artist Leah Mebane will show children age 3 and up how to use eco-friendly, natural pigments harvested from the earth to make their art. Mebane incorporates just about anything, using rock dust, ashes from her woodstove, creek sand and various minerals in her paints. The results are rich and colorful.
Mebane says, "It's fun when I give a paintmaking demo, and the kids are so surprised. They'll ask, 'Is this really from dirt?' " She adds that the class gets pretty wild as children paint and do nature crafts. "The paints are completely nontoxic, so kids can finger paint, splatter paint, get it all over them. The best part is watching them get so crazy and creative."
Saturday, Dec. 21 — The teen library is hosting a teen gaming day from noon to 3:30 p.m., featuring video and board games for kids 12 and up.
The regularly scheduled family game night will take place that evening from 5 to 11 p.m. I've attended this event a couple of times with my kids and it's great fun. There are games for just about any age, and the huge gathering of local families always makes for a festive atmosphere.
Sunday Dec. 22, 1 to 2 p.m. — Tish McFadden-Harriss and young ukulele players from her Rum Tum School of Music will lead a family holiday sing-along. McFadden-Harriss made a music chart of about 15 popular, nonreligious holiday songs such as "Frosty the Snowman," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Jingle Bells" and "Winter Wonderland." People can play along with the percussion instruments on hand or they can bring their own.
"It's an interactive event," she said. "I hope we can get kids and grown-ups singing along." Of course, clapping hands, whistling or just humming along in your head is wonderful, too. McFadden-Harriss has been teaching music to kids for more than 24 years, and she estimates she currently has about 100 students (information corrected from earlier version). "It's been glorious," she said. "Ashland is so supportive of children and their music, and this time of year is magical."
Children's librarian Margie Cicerrella points out that the library is a good place for gift-giving ideas, too. The librarians have even created a handy gift-giving guide for all ages and interests.
"The children's section of the gift-giving guide is great for aunts, uncles, grandparents, anyone who isn't sure what the kids in their lives are reading," said Cicerrella. The guide includes books that are popular with both patrons and librarians. For example, the paranormal series "Beautiful Creatures" by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is at the top of the list for young-adult girls, and author Scott Westerfield's Steampunk series, the Leviathan Trilogies, is recommended for teen boys. Elementary-age readers may like "How to Train Your Dragon" by Cressida Colwell, and middle schoolers will get a kick out of "The Lemonade War" by Jacqueline Davies, and "The Mysterious Benedict Society" by Trenton Lee Stewart.
With all these books, art, music and games to choose from, there's no excuse for boredom. Even when special activities aren't going on, the library is a warm refuge from the winter cold. The chairs are comfy, the staff is sunny and there's no need for snow pants.
The Ashland Library is at 410 Siskiyou Blvd. For information about events, call 541-774-6996.
Angela Decker is a freelance writer in Ashland and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.