Once & Future

Charlotte Ashley – Book seller, collector, writer, editor, historian

March 22, 2012

5 Things For Your Kids To Do While The TPL Is On Strike

This week the Toronto Public Library’s library worker’s union officially went on strike. I support the workers 100% in this: their desire to give a little bit of security to their largely precarious workforce is absolutely reasonable and, if you ask me, even asking too little.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not sad to see the libraries closed and locked. We made the ill-timed decision to return our library books last week without choosing a new batch, a snap decision made when faced with an unexpected double-nap on the part of my two daughters. No fear, though: Toronto is chock-a-block with book events, even for the littlest persons. So with no further ado, here are five things you might want to do with your small persons while the librarians fight the good fight!

1 – Visit an Ontario Early Years Centre

Or, in my case, The Children’s Storefront, a not-for-profit drop-in for preschoolers and their care givers. All Early Years centres have books, but the Storefront has an especially impressive library, the result of donations and a fundraising campaign over the last two years while the organization was moving to a new space in the wake of a devastating fire. While you can’t withdraw the books and take them away, you can cuddle up in the library alcove with the rugs and the pillows and enjoy the collection which runs the gamut from board books through picture books, reference books, big-kid books and even parent reference books. My voracious reader and I spend at least three days a week here and have yet to even make a dent in the literal wall of books available.

2 – Take A Class at Mable’s Fables

If you haven’t taken your child to Mable’s Fables, you are doing them a disservice. When I moved here twelve years ago, Toronto had an array of children’s bookstores and, unfortunately, all but one of them have gone out of business. But one of the last ones standing is unimaginably perfect. Mable’s has launches, book clubs, book drives, a web store, institutional services and classes as well as the given great selection of books. They offer a range of children’s activities, some of which are not too dissimilar from the TPL’s “Baby Time” and “Family Time”, though they do cost a one-time fee. The new session begins between now and early April – so it’s the perfect time to sign up!

3 – Make Comics at Little Island Comics

Little Island Comics, the just-for-kids (-and-childlike-adults) comic book shop on Bathurst at Bloor, hosts a drop-in comic making session for kids every Saturday morning from noon-3pm. You can take these home or leave them at the store where they will be on display, and especially young visitors can do a little colouring. And more often than not, your Saturday comic making session will be hosted by actual comic book creators doing launch-like events for their recent books. Go work with Chris Leung and Sondang Sianipar of The Misadventures of Mal & Lot on March 31st, or Peyton & Hilary Leung of The Pirate Girl’s Treasure on April 14th. And on that note…

4 – Go to a Book Launch

Maybe it’s just me, but I think kid book launches are WAY cooler than grown-up book launches! Maybe it’s the emphasis on activity rather than schmoozing, I don’t know, but kid’s book launches always seem to involve games, magicians, theatre, music, contests and a whole lot of drawing. We had a fantabulous time two years ago at a Ninja, Cowboy, Bear launch which involved a very spirited Ninja, Cowboy, Bear session (think rock, paper, scizzors), and so we have every intention of attending Small Print Toronto‘s launch of The Pirate Girl’s Treasure, Origami for Pirates! I didn’t realize until writing that I’ve plugged this book twice in one post – I swear I’m not working for anyone involved – I just think the idea of a pirate girl’s adventures with an origami theme is AMAZING. But your interests may vary – check Small Print’s website for other launches and events this spring, or keep an eye on Open Book Toronto‘s extensive listings.

5 – Attend The Toronto Storytelling Festival

When most of us think “story time”, we’re thinking “for kids”. Maybe even “for kids who can’t read yet”. Storytelling Toronto knows better. All literature is rooted in an oral tradition, and a vibrant storytelling scene still exists in Toronto, as it does almost everywhere. The 34th Toronto Storytelling Festival is a big, elaborate affair which will run the weekend of March 29th-April 1st at a variety of venues (the website is excellent and comprehensive – do look). Events run from storytelling sessions to workshops to meet-and-greets. The majority of the events are not, in fact, aimed at children, but family and kid’s events are in no short supply. The most focused children’s events will be at the Bata Shoe Museum - Parent-Child Mother Goose Program (March 31st, 10:30am-11:30am), Andy Jones tells “Jack Tales” (March 31st, 1:00pm – 2:00pm) and Stories from Mother Earth (April 1st, 1:00pm – 2:00pm).  But kid-friendly events don’t begin and event there, so do look at the schedule for more ideas!

2 thoughts on “5 Things For Your Kids To Do While The TPL Is On Strike”

  1. sshaver says:

    It’s a good time to educate kids about the history of labor, too.

    1. seconded says:

      what sshaver said.

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