Wonder at Widener Library

By Sunita B. Thu, August 8, 2019

Summer at Widener Library has included a whirlwind of educational and entertaining programs, ranging from subjects like science to art and nearly everything in between! Thanks to our friend Miss Goda, who drew upon her impressive horticultural knowledge and expertise, we started a Garden Club with our young patrons. Despite high temperatures and considerable humidity, we tended to our plants and flowers, which include heirloom tomatoes, sweet red peppers, basil, ground cherries (a sweet and tart treat related to the tomato plant), chamomile, kale, and more! Not only did we enjoy the literal fruits of our efforts, but Miss Goda taught us valuable lessons in how to build and take care of a garden, including the science behind why things grow (or don't) the way they do.

However, we didn't just spend our time outside this summer. Our indoor activities included weekly programs such as Chess Club, Board Game Buddies, and Crafternoons, the latter two of which were helmed by our talented student workers from the Philadelphia Youth Network’s WorkReady program. They created crafts including bookmarks and clay fish, and for the last few weeks they are with us, will create customized paper jellyfish and help us plan an end of summer party. Our fabulous LEAP Maker Mentor, Miss Kathy, tailored her programming to fit the theme of the Free Library’s Summer of Wonder, the Science of Me, through the exploration of our five senses.

Widener Library also welcomed very special guest presenters for programs that were aimed to inspire young minds. We kicked off our Summer of Wonder with the Amazing Mr. Q, magician and storyteller extraordinaire, who interactively shared fables from Africa while the children used their minds and hands to experience magic in a whole new way. We learned about the rich history and culture of Mexico from Alycia Larson, the "Geography Lady," who engaged the children in a multisensory way through making Mexican crafts as well as through savoring the delicious flavors of a true salad rather than a melting pot. Hip-hop and Jazz musicologist Ali Richardson educated participants about the history and origins of hip-hop music. Danielle Townsend, a wonderful new addition to the Free Library system, taught us the ancient art of ebru, or paper marbling. Comic book enthusiast Shawn Alleyne inspired our kids in creating their own superheroes. Upcoming programs include Science in the Summer, sponsored by the Franklin Institute and Glaxo-Smith Kline and a Watershed program brought to us by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, which is designed to teach children about the connections between storm drains, creeks, and rivers to the importance of maintaining clean streets and sidewalks.

While we strived to nourish the minds and spirits of our young ones, we endeavored to also nourish their growing bodies. Through our partnership with Philabundance, we were able to provide healthy and tasty daily meals. The tomatoes and peppers from our garden served as a refreshing afternoon treat.

One of the most exciting opportunities we had at Widener Library was welcoming the staff, crew, and on-air talent from WURD radio. Our patrons were treated to an enlightening broadcast, which rang out through our library space. Our Children’s Librarian, Miss Sunita, was given a chance to speak about what Widener Library has to offer in terms of programming and how we strive to be a positive part of our community.

As we close out another summer and prepare for the new school year, we would like to thank everyon: colleagues, patrons, presenters, and our amazing Friends group for their tireless devotion to bringing our vision for a safe and exciting learning center to life!

Some of the bounty from this summer's Garden Club!
Some of the bounty from this summer's Garden Club!
Chess
Chess
The ancient art of ebru,
The ancient art of ebru, "Paper Marbling"

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