• CARL Lego Club encourages creativity, reading

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Reading is important in the growth of a young child, but it isn’t always easy to get children interested in reading regularly. The Combined Arms Research Library has a solution with its bi-weekly Lego Club every other Thursday.
    “There is kind of the mentality of ‘If you build it, they will come,’” said Dan Barbuto, reference librarian. “If people come into the library, they are much more likely to checkout something since they are just walking through the library. The odds of them going to the children’s room are a lot higher when they are 10 feet away from it than if they are driving past or someone mentions, ‘Hey, by the way, they’ve got a children’s library, too.’”
    Sarah Carlson, mother of 5-year-old Finn and 3-year-old Emma, said being at the library encourages her children to read more.
    “It is an excuse to pick up books since we’re here anyway. We got here a little early, so we had some time to kill, and they wanted to pick out some books. Otherwise, I don’t think we would’ve gone to the library today just for books,” Carlson said.
    “I love that they have (Lego Club), I love that it is free, and I love that they have a theme every time. It gives them an idea of where to start.”
    Finn said he enjoys playing with the Legos.
    “You can build anything,” he said.
    The Lego Club started in July 2018 and has averaged anywhere from 10 to 30 children each week, Barbuto said.
    “It has been going really well,” he said. “It came around the idea that we could do some more children’s programming. We already do storytime, what else can we do? Some libraries do clubs, some libraries do coding. I was like, ‘I know how to play with Legos.’
    “One thing I liked about this, too, especially since we started out in July, a lot of people were new, and they didn’t have a house full of goods yet, so it is like, ‘Come here and you can play with my Legos for an hour,’” Barbuto said. “It is something for them to do and it is relatively easy for us. The (Command and General Staff College) Foundation gave us less than $500 for us to get all of this material with it. What I like about both this and about our Board Game Night is that it is really low cost, high reward. So, it is easy on us, I’m here anyway, we’ve got the materials at the library, and we’ve got the expertise. It is very low key, very relaxed.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Barbuto said he is starting to introduce the literacy side into the club as well with a drawing, which includes Lego-themed books for prizes.
    “From the (CGSC) Foundation, we got a collection of Lego books,” he said. “There are lots of Lego books. They are regular stories that are made up and they’re in the beginning reader section or they’re in the picture book section.
    “So, if they’re interested in Legos, I can go, ‘Hey, here is a book that you might like to read because it has got Legos in it,’” Barbuto said. “That’s the hook sometimes to get kids interested. It helps that one of the books (for the drawing) is going to be ‘Lego Batman.’ Lego is amazing because it combines so many different aspects — Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel. There is literally something for everybody.”
    The club offers more incentive for the children as well because their creations are put on display in the library for two weeks.
    “(The children) like being able to show off their stuff,” Barbuto said.
    Amy Armstrong, mother of 7-year-old Libby, 5-year-old Millie and 2-year-old Mae, who attended Lego Club for the first time Jan. 17, said the displays are just one of the reasons why she thinks they’ll return to the club in the future.
    “I think it is exciting that their little projects are going to be displayed,” she said. “So, when we come to the library during the week, they’ll be able to see them, and I think that will make them want to come back and do more.”
    Armstrong said there is another reason why they’ll probably come back.
    “To be honest, just because we can play with Legos here and I don’t have to clean it up,” Armstrong said.
    The next session of the Lego Club is from 4-5 p.m. Jan. 31 at the library. For more information, call (913) 758-3001.
    CARL also hosts Board Game Night every second and fourth Thursday of the month. The next session is at 5 p.m. tonight at the library.
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