Arapahoe Libraries’ youth programming a gift that keeps on giving

District hosted nearly 800 teen and kid programs in ’16, served more than 35,000 participants

The Denver Post, opens a new window
Joe Rubino

More than a dozen kids gathered in a conference room at Smoky Hill

Library in Centennial last week to learn about some wintertime holidays of various religions and cultures and to make crafts that could be given as presents.

For some of the adults in the room, the best gift is the multitude of free events and programs for teens and children provided at Smoky Hill and other Arapahoe Libraries branches all year long.

Light Up the Holidays: Stories and Crafts, as last week’s program was called, helped participants between the ages of 5 and 12 explore the customs surrounding Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the winter solstice, their differences and some of the similarities they share.

“What do we know about Hanukkah?” Amie Stapleton, an Arapahoe Libraries programming specialist, asked.

“There are 12 candles and they get presents every day,” one boy said.

Close. As Stapleton informed her young audience, Hanukkah involves nine candles, including one at the center of the menorah. Each of the eight candles on the candelabrum’s arms signify a night that a lamp was kept burning in a Jewish temple despite there only being enough oil to keep it lit for one. This year, Hanukkah began Dec. 24 and ends on Jan. 1.

After learning a little bit about each of the four holidays and listening to Stapleton read the book, “Love Monster and the Perfect Present,” the kids got crafty.

They made paper plate menorahs, Kwanzaa candle ornaments and pipe cleaner stars personalized with gold, orange and yellow beads to signify the sun, the soon-to-be increasing presence of which is marked on the winter solstice.

Among the kids in attendance was 11-year-old Rochelle Jones. She has been attending various programs at Arapahoe Libraries since she was 3 years old. She said her favorite program in recent memory was a how-to workshop on balloon animals.

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