By Maddy Vitale
Melinda Kovacs lives in Linwood. But she makes it a point to head over to the Ocean City Free Public Library, to enjoy all the activities offered for her 2-year-old son Finn. And despite soggy weather Wednesday, she wanted her son to attend a program that was in celebration of Black History Month.
She brought Finn to listen to Taimi Kelley, a children’s librarian, read some works from African American authors. It was part of the National African American Read-in. The first readings were for Finn and other children ages 2 and 3. Later in the afternoon, there were readings for children ages 4 and 5.
Kovacs, who used to live in Ocean City, said she wouldn’t miss it. Finn, loves all of the activities they attend at the library.
“We have been coming since he was a baby,” Kovacs said. “He loves it.”
But the significance of the readings and the celebration of Black History Month, made this event educational and important, she said.
“I don’t know how much Finn would understand of the history at his age, but he is playing the instruments, learning and having fun,” Kovacs said. “We definitely want him to grow up in a diverse environment. We want to take him to all of the events where he can learn people come in all shapes and sizes.”
Because the children are so young, the message of Black History Month is done more with music and dancing, along with two readings, Kelley explained.
Kelley got everyone moving, dancing, clapping and finger – snapping, to music. She put two containers of instruments on the floor for kids to choose from. Some of the toddlers rushed and scooped up shakers and mini-drums, to play to the music.
“It is really about parents and their children enjoying the day, and what the children may have learned today,” Kelley said.
Finn had a good time playing with the shakers, beating on a mini-drum, some tiny symbols and then listening intently as Kelley read a book.
Carol Rose, of Ocean City, brought her grandchildren Jake,5, Jack, 4, and Saylor, 2, for the readings.
“It is education, entertaining and really an absolutely great learning experience,” she said.
Kelley even taught the children some words in African.
“Funga Alafia, ashy, ashy,” she said to the children and asked them to repeat it. She told them it means “with my heart I welcome you.”
Some of the children repeated it, clapped and smiled.
One of the books Kelley read titled: “I got the Rhythm,” is about the joy of music and how a little girl hears rhythm from the whole world. It is written by Connie Schofield-Morrison. Her brother Frank Morrison did the illustrations.
“Freight Train,” by Donald Crews, is a children’s picture book. It describes the inner workings of a large cargo train.
Kelley explained that the books, with vivid pictures, and a fun story, really lend themselves to a fun lesson for the children and hopefully one that will teach them as well.
Shauna Schull, of Upper Township, said her son Cayden, 3, was having a great time.
Adult Programming Librarian Julie Brown remarked after the program that the event is such a success in part, because Kelley really puts her all into her readings.
“Taimi is wonderful. She gets so many people out to her programs because of the great job she does,” Brown said. “She really puts her heart into the program. People come from other areas to see her programs and you could see the kids really enjoy it.”
Later in the evening was an Open Mic for people to participate by bringing their favorite short passage from a book, poem, or speech by an African American author to read aloud.
For more information about the Ocean City Free Public Library visit www.oceancitylibrary.org.