Friday, April 11, 2008

Hidden Gems

I am starting a new series with this post, called "Hidden Gems". Over the course of the next year or so, I will occasionally talk about some of the specific people, places and things that make our are a special place to live. I often mention these items in the Things to Do posts, but I thought it would be nice to go into more depth about some of them.

If you have children and live in the Monroe area, sooner or later you are bound to meet the smiling face of Miss Kris.

Miss Kris is the heart and soul of the children's room of the Monroe Public Library. She is there with a smile, greeting children by name and quick to remember their interests and personalities. Many young kids happily bounce up the stairs to the children's section to give her an update on their lives. She listens patiently, taking the time to pay attention, ask questions and genuinely care. Older kids play on the computer, read, do homework and chat away on the sofas and beanbags under her watchful eyes. Older kids like to gather after school or on weekends to be with their friends or play on the bank of computers available for their use. The Children's Room is a welcoming place for kids of all ages.

If your children are younger, come to Storytime. Miss Kris usually leads the energetic Storytime every week for the preschool set. Filled with puppets, songs, fingerplays, stories and crafts, Storytime is an hour of fun for everyone. Come on Thursdays at 10 am. Toddlers have their own storytime on Mondays at 10 am, specially designed for 18 month through 3 year olds. Toddlers are welcome at the Preschoool Storytime with siblings, but it is fun for them to have their own time too. Once a month, the library does a Celebrando storytime in Spanish and English, led by Miss Kris and a father from the community. There are also special events like Pajama Storytime every once in a while.

Also popular at the library are the puppet shows put on a few times a year by Miss Kris and her crew of teen volunteers. The kids spend hours writing and rehearsing the shows, and the productions are fantastic.

The library also hosts family movie afternoons on occasional Saturdays, complete with popcorn. Gather in the air conditioning on a hot summer afternoon and laugh your way through a movie with the kids. It is a fun family time.

In 2004, Miss Kris was honored with one of the Green County Quality of Life awards, given to people who have made significant efforts towards improving or maintaining our quality of life here in Green County. It was well deserved. Miss Kris and the Children's Room of the Monroe Public Library are one of our Hidden Gems here in Green County.

Gracing the walls of the Children's Room is an incredible mural by another of our Hidden Gems, local artist Suzanne Miller. Only two small portions are shown here. The mural stretches ninety feet across three walls of the library. This is a masterpiece filled with intricate scenes that each manages to relate to the section it is over - from a cow jumping over the moon and a grown up (who strongly resembles Miss Kris) reading to children in the picture book section to an older child reading by flashlight under a sheet tent by the non-fiction and older children's books. The mural shows the wonder of literature, the amazing world that opens up as children start to explore books. Bring your kids in on a rainy day and spend the afternoon playing "I Spy". You will find endless things to spy in this intricate work of art.

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