"at your library" in the north island eagle: come play and learn!

We're celebrating Christmas early here at the Port Hardy Library – and Port McNeill, Port Alice, and Sointula Libraries, too. We're so excited to unwrap wonderful new supplies for the community to enjoy in our libraries.

For children, we have a new selection of wooden puzzles, showing animals, shapes, "things that go" (always a hit), and the alphabet. Kids love puzzles – and parents and caregivers should love them, too. It's amazing how many skills children develop when they play with puzzles.

Puzzles help children develop physical skills, such as hand-eye coordination and motor skills. They help children learn about the world around them, through shape recognition, tactile (touching) skills, and memory. Puzzles teach problem-solving, patience, and – if we're lucky – sharing and collaboration. And of course there are the pictures on the puzzle itself, teaching children to recognize letters, animals, colours, and shapes.

Playing with puzzles builds your child's confidence, too. If you're a puzzler yourself, you know that sense of satisfaction you get when you watch the images emerge, and when that final piece is in place. Very young children playing with simple wooden puzzles feel the same way.

When you help your child play with puzzles, talking about what the pieces show, or what sounds the animals make, you are helping them learn language – which means you are helping them learn how to read! Is it any wonder why we want puzzles in the library? So don't just watch your children play. Put down your phone and get involved!

Along with puzzles, you'll find new puppets in the library, too. Playing with puppets helps kids learn language, understand stories, gain confidence in speaking, and even build important emotional learning such as empathy and self-expression.

Our new supplies aren't only for pre-schoolers. For older kids – ages 9 through 99 – we have classic board games like Monopoly, Clue, Connect 4, and Uno, and a game set that includes chess, checkers, backgammon, dominoes, and more. Port Alice has a new Mahjong set for its avid tilers.

To top it all off, you'll find a colourful, new, magnetic building kit. Building kits are great STEAM activities, taking in design, engineering, and problem-solving, and building confidence and creativity.

Guess who paid for all this fun? You did.

These supplies were all funded through our used book sales. When you buy our old books, you accomplish two pieces of community service: you help create space for new books and you help enhance our libraries with new options for all to use.

I hope you'll stop by your library to sample these fun (and educational) activities. What better way to brighten up a rainy afternoon or answer that dreaded whine: I'm bored! "Let's go play games at the library!"

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