On most days, Mark Twain Library’s reading room is designated as a quiet place for adults to read — except for Monday mornings in July.
On Monday at 9:30 a.m. — 30 minutes before the Redding library officially opens for the day — several dozen children were inside, munching on bagels, playing with toys, and reading, at the Checkout Chat & Chew program.
The free, one-hour program, which runs every Monday through July 30, offers a place for children to play while their parents and caregivers can socialize and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee, bagel or doughnut.
Caregivers must stay at the program.
This is the second summer the program has been held. It meets for five times. From 40 to 80 people attend each time.
Toys include Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toy, K’nex, and Lego Duplo, as well as Playmobil, Snap n’ style dolls, and a tea set.
“This is my first time here,” said Nursen Demiroz of Danbury, who was with her 13-month-old daughter, Ada. “It’s great because we get a chance to meet other families.”
Demiroz met fellow mom Kristen Terrana-Hollis and her 16-month-old daughter Sienna several months ago at a storytime program, and invited them to Checkout Chat & Chew.
“We love coming here,” Terrana said. “Sienna can play with new kids and toys.”
Daniel Sokal and Erica Stadler of Redding went to the program each time it was held last summer. The couple’s three-year-old son Tevel Stadler-Sokal said he likes playing with the cars.
“My favorite car is the fire truck,” Tevel said, adding his “big” brother Bowen, who is 5, shares a fire truck with him at home.
The couple was also at the program with their one-year-old son, Declan Stadler-Sokal.
Five-year-old Alexander Woodward of Redding was busy choosing books for Mark Twain’s summer reading program.
“Every five books they read, they get a prize,” said Alexander’s mother Maria, who also took her daughter Sienna, 4, to the library.
“He already got a bracelet and a coupon for Ferris Acres Creamery in Newtown,” she added.
Alexander said he has three favorite books: “The Three Little Pigs,” as well as “Too Cool for School” and “The Bad Banana,” which are both from the Pete the Cat series.
He said he hopes to read 100 books this summer. “He’s up to 20 books in two weeks,” Woodward said.
Alexander said when he grows up, he wants to be a math teacher, “just like my mommy.”
Danbury resident Joan Vandewater took her grandaughter, New Milford resident Cosette Vandewater, 2, to the program.
“I try to bring her to the library as often as I can,” Vandewater said. “We were here for the winter toddler program as well.”
Lisa Cederbaum, Mark Twain Library’s children’s programmer, created the program.
“As a Redding parent with two children in the school system, I’m always trying to think of ways to make life easier for parents. When my kids were little, summer felt really long and expensive,” said Cederbaum, who also holds a Checkout Chat & Chew the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week “for relaxing before the rush of Thanksgiving.”
“While I plan lots of story times and other activities at the library, I thought it would be fun to have something a little more relaxing where people in this small town can just gather,” Cederbaum added.