The Casey Memorial Library is offering several take-home activities for Fort Hood families to enjoy while also remaining safe during the ongoing pandemic.

One activity is the DIY Story Time Kits, which allow families to experience the, much missed, story time sessions at home.

“The DIY Story Time Kits are intended as a way for families to recreate a little bit of the Library Story Time magic at home,” Rachel Bethel, public services librarian at Casey Memorial Library, said. “Every kit has the supplies for a simple craft included, a supplementary activity sheet or coloring page or both, and a sheet with suggestions for books, songs, activities, and supplementary resources if they want to dig a little deeper into that theme. There is also a link to a video of a book related to the theme in case a parent’s voice gets tired and a few tips on putting on their own library-style story time.”

She added, “I’ve also been keeping a display of themed titles beyond the suggestions in the kit for parents to check out in the children’s room. Because so many kids are at home right now and families are juggling priorities, a lot of families have been leaving the kids at home and sending one parent out to do multiple errands in very short time frames, so having everything out in the same place has been very well received.”

Another activity is the Parent to Parent Online Story Time. Parent to Parent has partnered with the library for a long time and wanted to continue providing a story time online once the pandemic hit.

“The way it works is Parent to Parent selects a book to read online and reserves an online meeting room, then distributes flyers with the registration link. The flyers can also be found in the library, on the Army MWR Libraries’ Facebook, and distributed to partners or through our mailing list along with the library’s event calendar,” Bethel said. “If a family is interested in completing the craft shown during the session, they can pick up the craft supplies at the library.”

When asked what she thought the biggest benefit of having several take home activities Bethel shared that she believes safety is the biggest benefit, but there are others as well.

 “Many families are leaving the kids at home right now and sending a parent or other family member to select books for them. But there are several fringe benefits as well,” Bethel explained. “Many parents I’ve spoken to adore our take home options because they’re short on time or creativity or supplies to do things with their kids, and the kits are non-screen activities which are increasingly difficult for many families with younger children to come by at a time when the parents or an older sibling need the internet connection work or school.

“We also have a display of take-home coloring pages and simple activity sheets in the Children’s Room that has been enormously popular with a number of families who have limited money for ink or no printer at home. Libraries have always been a resource for information and entertainment on a budget. By offering more take-home options, we’re just expanding that in a slightly different direction,” she added.

Bethel said that even though they’ve had to reduce programing and computer and building capacity, there is still plenty going on at Casey Memorial Library.

“Aside from the DIY Story Time Kits and Parent to Parent partnership, we still offer All-Ages Coloring the first Saturday of every month in a new take-home format, the Patches Book Club for kids learning to read up to age 12, and a weekly Dungeons and Dragons game for ages 18 plus,” she said. “We’re also going to have a presence at Rabbit Road and have done a few ‘surprise’ options in-house like giving away T-shirts, a scavenger hunt, etc. More options are planned, so watch this space.”

Next, month they are also working on the Read Across Central Texas event.

“Read Across Central Texas is an annual program put together by Central Texas libraries, museums, and other partners to promote reading and explore what each location offers,” she said. “Traditionally, participants would be encouraged to visit at least five different locations and get a stamp or sticker on a map or ‘passport’ to earn a prize. Since that is not conducive to safety and social distancing, this year the event is moving online. Participants will be encouraged to go on a virtual ‘tour’ to learn about the different locations and answer questions in a virtual scavenger hunt among other activities. More details will be announced later this month when the website opens to the public.”

The library’s hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on how to get a library account so you can access all the books, movies, music and video games that are available to check out, visit mwrlibrary.armybiznet.com.