Of the 23 branches in the Fairfax County Public Library system, only one has a dedicated children’s desk.
That area, at the Reston Regional Library, is a bustling center of activity. So said Dorota Rodgers, the library’s youth services manager.
“It’s everything, from storytime to movies to art class,” she said.
The schedule of children’s events for the coming month at the library is jam-packed, featuring something for kids of all ages — from babies all the way up through teens. Programming for teens, for example, includes coding workshops and a Teen Advisory Board.
But Rodgers said there is a “very high demand” for programs geared toward babies.
“When registration opens, it is full in 20 or 30 minutes,” she said. “I think people are more focused on how to prepare their children to be successful as a reader and then at school.”
With that in mind, the library is putting a major focus on the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program, which launched Nov. 1. The program encourages parents to regularly read to their young children, getting the kids to make reading an important aspect of their lives.
Rodgers said nearly 150 families have registered for the program at the Reston library in its first two months, and some have already reached the 250-book plateau.
“Children learn about pre-reading skills. They can start learning from birth,” she said. “It’s a very precious program.”
Getting children familiar with the importance of reading is a key component to their future success, Rodgers said. She said the all-volunteer teachers who provide programming at the library are a big part of getting kids excited about visiting.
One program sees trained therapy dogs brought into the library. Children read to the pups and gain a valuable learning experience in doing so, Rodgers said.
“They lay down with the dog, show pictures to the dog, whisper to them,” Rodgers said. “Nobody judges them, and they just love spending time reading in a 15-minute session, one on one.”
More intricate programs that require bringing in outside presenters, such as Little Twisters Storytime Yoga and Gymboree Music, are co-sponsored by the Friends of the Reston Regional Library.
“Thanks to the very supportive Friends of the Reston Regional Library, I can book many paid performers from outside, additional to our programs done by our staff members,” Rodgers said.
The library also offers programming for adults, including stress-relieving coloring sessions and courses in English as a Second Language.
For more information on upcoming programming at the Reston Regional Library, check out the online calendar, call the library at 703-689-2700 or pick up a schedule at the front desk.
Common Ground Child Care Center (1700 Wainwright Drive) is scheduled to host the big man in red from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, according to the organization. Children can have some food, play games, work on crafts and take a photo with the jolly old elf.
Admission is $5. Parents also are asked to donate a new or gently used children’s book for Common Ground’s library.
Families are encouraged to RSVP at [email protected].
Founded in 1972, Common Ground provides programs for children between the ages of 6 weeks and 12 years old.
Photo via Wikimedia/Bailiwick Studios
“Reston A to Z,” a book by author Watt Hamlett and illustrator Jill Olinger Vinson, hits select stores today.
The book takes young readers on a tour of the community and teaches them the story of how it came to be, led by none other than its famous founder — who takes the form of an animal named Robert E. Squirrel.
“[Bob Squirrel] is a delightful character who perhaps bears more than a passing resemblance to Reston’s beloved founder, Robert E. Simon,” Hamlett and Vinson said.
The story is told in rhyming verse, and takes children through the alphabet from A to Z, with each stop featuring a different corner of the Reston community. The book includes colorful, illustrated drawings of the places, activities and nature that make Reston what it is.
Stops along the tour include Lake Anne Plaza, Reston Town Center, Reston Regional Library, the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, Walker Nature Center, the Reston Farmers Market, the W&OD Trail and more.
“The book also highlights features of Reston such as its lakes, pedestrian paths, swimming pools, community garden plots and parks,” say Hamlett and Vinson.
They add, the book also features other creative touches like a hidden acorn on each page, a coloring page, and a travel log where kids can check off the places or things in the book they have experienced around Reston.
All in all, the book is an homage to the town Hamlett and Vinson have grown to love as residents for so many years.
Hamlett, the book’s author and photographer, has lived in Reston since 2000. He says he was inspired to write this book out of his love for Reston that grew from exploring it over many years with his wife and two sons.
“I hope the book serves as a tribute to Reston’s beauty, community spirit and the vision of Reston’s founder, Robert E. Simon,” Hamlett said.
Jill Olinger Vinson, the book’s illustrator, grew up in Reston and is a graduate of South Lakes High School. She returned as an adult to live in Reston with her husband, and her two sons were born in Reston. She now lives in neighboring Herndon.
“Reston A to Z is available for sale locally at several locations, including the Reston Museum at Lake Anne Plaza. For all copies purchased at the Museum, 100 percent of the profits will go directly to the Reston Historic Trust. The Museum is also selling stuffed Bob Squirrel plushes.
Hamlett and Vinson will be signing copies of the book at the Reston Museum on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to noon.
The book is also available for purchase online from Mascot Books, and at other Reston retailers including Scrawl Books and Dawn Price Baby, as well as online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. The book retails for $15.95.
Photos courtesy of Watt Hamlett and Jill Olinger Vinson
Learning how to swim shouldn’t stop when the weather gets too cold to swim outside.
Reston’s Goldfish Swim School appreciates that fact, and provides high-quality year-round swim classes for kids four months to 12 years old. The pools are kept at 90 degrees and air temperature at 92 so kids’ bodies stay shiver-free as they get in and out of the pool. The parents’ gallery for watching lessons is kept at a comfortable temperature.
Goldfish Swim School first started in Michigan in 2006, and was an instant success teaching kids to swim with Ellis and Red Cross Certified Instructors and Lifeguards. The Reston location opened in November 2014 and has had an amazing response.
Goldfish Swim School knows that children learn water safety and swim skills best when consistent practice occurs, which is why they offer perpetual lessons year round.
With a kid-friendly atmosphere complete with warm pools and fun, tropical décor, Goldfish Swim School has what you and you child need to be happy and successful in the water.
The preceding post was sponsored by Goldfish Swim School.
At Totally Trucks, RA lets kids climb on all the big construction equipment, as well as a fire truck, ambulance and other public safety vehicles.
Totally Trucks is 9:30 a.m. to noon on Aug. 7 at RA’s Central Services Facility (12250 Sunset Hills Rd). Admission is free and the event takes place rain or shine.