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Murray Journal

Families Build Forts at the Library

Apr 07, 2016 02:45PM ● By Natalie Mollinet

By Natalie Mollinet | [email protected]

Murray - Reading a book in a different place can bring out the magic in the story, whether it’s under a tree, near the beach or under a blanket. The Murray City Library hosted a Family and Forts night at the library encouraging families to come and read together. 

The idea has never been done at the library, and families were invited to come and sit under a blanket or an extravagant fort they made and read to each other under it using a flashlight. 

“We have asked them to bring blankets or sheets, but we did have materials if the families didn’t bring anything,” Assistant Librarian Theresa McLeod said. 

The library director found the idea for the event on a list of the most popular library events in the country and thought Murray City Library was the perfect place to start getting families to come and sit and read stories together. 

Before the event started, families gathered in the auditorium to hear some short stories from McLeod. She did all the voices and had the kids laughing and whispering; they were completely into the books she was reading to them. They sat on bean bag chairs and ate their milk and cookies while others shined their flashlights around the room. They waited for the library to empty out before the event started, and once all the lights had been turned off, except the emergency ones, the families were let out to build their forts. 

“My kids love to read, so just getting them in a different environment to read sounded fun,” said Melissa Robbins, a mother of two who came to the event. “I think it’s really fun; we’ve never done it, but it’s a good idea to help kids enjoy learning more.”

Children were excited to bring their pillows and blankets to the event and set up their reading stations around the library. Kids were smiling as they sat under their forts and looked around with their flashlights. The forts could easily be dismantled if the parents needed to leave. 

“You always love and hate it when a child makes a fort at home,” McLeod said. “Because things never get put back the way they were supposed to, so I hope they took advantage of this at the library.” 

Families were allowed to take books from the shelves and read them, and if the kids were really interested in the books, they were allowed to check out the books even though it was after hours. 

According to literacy statistics, higher reading exposure was 95 percent positively correlated with neural activation, and children that grow up in homes with at least 20 books get three years’ more schooling than children from bookless homes independent of parents’ education, occupation and class. 

 “I think it gives them a sort of sense of equality,” McLeod said about children reading to their parents. “It’s something that they can give back to their parents, showing them a skill they’ve learned.”

The turnout to the event was great, and with the look on the children’s faces, it looks like this may become a frequent event. 

“I think it’s kind of a fun idea to have an after-hours event,” McLeod said. “I think that might add a little specialness to this program. But it’s the same whether it’s open or closed, but I hope they feel special that they’re in here after hours.”